New iPod Touch POS May Go Commercial

December 1, 2009

Just weeks after rolling out a ground-breaking iPod touch point-of-sale system (POS), Apple may be preparing to commercialize the system and generate some revenue from its creation. Coincidentally, the move comes on the same day that the founder of Twitter announced a possible competitor to the iPod POS, which will allow small businesses to easily and quickly accept credit card payments using a mobile device. According to insiders, Apple has been deluged with inquiries about the POS system, which is comprised of a sleek, custom-designed and manufactured shell that surrounds the iPod touch, and also incorporates a barcode scanner and magnetic stripe reader. The hardware links to custom-programmed software that streamlines the process of taking cash, credit or debit card payments for merchandise.

Since the debut of the iPod POS , inquires have been coming from all directions, including from end-user small businesses, larger chains and system integrators. Until now, Apple’s response has been that the iPod POS is a proprietary product, unavailable for sale.

But now, tipsters say, Apple retail executives have asked the retail store business specialists to collect contact information from anyone who inquires about the iPod touch system, apparently to create a database of potential customers if Apple decides to commercialize the product.

In an unrelated move, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey today announced his new start-up Square, which will market a magnetic strip reader dongle for the iPhone, along with advanced card processing services for merchants. Dorsey says that merchant sign-up will be easy and inexpensive, and the service will include on-screen customer signatures, photo verification of the buyer, and e-mail receipts with advanced features (map, coupons, rewards). Dorsey calls the new system “disruptive” and hopes to compete with PayPal and other similar payment systems.

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Joanna D December 1, 2009 at 2303

Too bad most banks refuse cards which are swiped with the magnetic strip. All of these companies need to develop a chip reader attachment.

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Insider December 2, 2009 at 0521

How can you say most banks refuse cards which are swiped with a magnetic strip… most of america uses this technology. The chip is still new to the credit card industry. I can say first hand from working in the stores that there has been a huge inquiry about the easypay touch system that apple has moved to. They are changing their focus with business by moving their business partners to business managers I can see them trying to make a huge dent in the pos market with this and possibly other items in the future.

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Alan December 2, 2009 at 0727

Replacing the reader is pretty easy – it’s a device that send bits over a USB port.

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Luis Alejandro Masanti December 2, 2009 at 0813

As the “assault to business” with the iPhone and the “invasion of handheld games” this could be the “next thing.”

Apple sells the iPOS (iPod touch + reader) together with a Mac mini (maybe server) and/or Airport Base station (a new use for Time Capsule?) and the software to process transactions “in store”… together with all the rest of the SMB software… erp… you won’t need Office anymore!

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james December 2, 2009 at 0902

This will be big. This would infiltrate so many business and Apple could create more tie ins to the Mac and its other products.

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Don December 2, 2009 at 1148

I think it will depend a great deal on price. IF the price on these units, as well as their cost of use is reasonable, many more tiny stores and individuals will be glad to accept plastic as well as cash and checks. This could make smaller stores and individuals more competitive.

It could also have another effect. Many of these individuals and tiny entrepreneurs are “underground” and do not declare their sales or profits. Billions of dollars are exchanged this way. Will these devices track the sales and send the information to the government? If so, it could result in massive new amounts of tax receipts from previously untapped sources. It may also put a dent in that underground economy.

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Adam December 2, 2009 at 1217

I was in an Apple store on Black friday with my mother buying her a new Macbook. I’ve got to say that the new touch POS system is fantastic. No waiting in lines; the POS is where you want it to be. We went into the store, were assigned a personal shopping guide, and when it came time to be rung up, he just did it all right there and then came back with the receipt and a bag. My guess is that apple will refine the product for widespread commercial use, wait until right before some other companies’ options become available, and then wade in and crush the market.

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carbon neutral December 3, 2009 at 0443

@Insider
‘magnetic strip… most of america uses this technology’
… and fraud is rife using this system. Europe went chip and PIN several years ago and fraud losses were cut to a tiny fraction overnight.
In any case, a chip reader could be incorporated just as easily – no big deal.

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The VAR Guy December 3, 2009 at 0559

Um, The VAR Guy (Web site) broke this Apple-POS story back on Nov. 24. Check his site to stay ahead of the IT curve, folks. [IFO - What The VAR Guy "broke" on Nov. 24th was to raise the "interesting question" whether Apple would commercialize their new iPod touch POS device. The VAR Guy based that question on the Appleinsider story posted three weeks earlier, and written by IFO (thanks for the link). Today's IFO story extends what we really know to include Apple's realization that the device has fairly wide commercial appeal, and that they should begin collecting potential customer names. A story headline ending with a question mark cannot be considered "breaking" news.]

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Johnny Mozzarella December 3, 2009 at 0950

I have a friend who tested Square’s new card reader. He wasn’t impressed. He said the card had to be in mint condition. Cards that are worn will not read properly. He didn’t think the software was a problem, just the cheap hardware reader.

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ObamaPacman December 3, 2009 at 1545

@ Don

I am sorry to say you might want to take it easy on whatever you are smoking. How do people make “underground” credit card transactions with credit cards? They can’t, so there is no such thing as “result in massive new amounts of tax receipts.”

FUD fail.

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Jason December 20, 2009 at 1455

Am I the only nerd who noticed… that’s quite a nice bum.

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Cheryl May 10, 2010 at 0638

A lot of posters here are missing the point. It’s not just a POS solution, it also updates inventory with the IR scanner. This is as important as the sale. If the card doesn’t swipe you can always punch in the numbers manually, like in a phone sale. Keeping the shelves stocked, but not overstocked is the hardest thing I do in my business.

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Gary Allen May 10, 2010 at 1927

Thanks for the additional information. I’ve been remiss in mentioning that the iPod touch software is connected throughout Apple’s computer systems, allowing the information to be collected, analyzed and distributed to all units of the company. That’s a big feature.

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Tea June 2, 2010 at 2026

This will help me with my small business and my husbands art fair sells as well. Thanks Apple for sharing!

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Looker June 10, 2010 at 1451

Geeks are looking at the iPod in that photo. I say, “Nice @ss!”

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Henrick October 9, 2010 at 1109

Looks like we have our commercial version: http://xsilva.com/mobile

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