Daniel Eran Dilger
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Apple retail stores upgrading EasyPay from Windows to iPod touch

EasyPay Pocket PC

Prince McLean, AppleInsider

Multiple sources have noted that Apple will be transitioning its retail store EasyPay handheld checkout systems from Windows-based PDA devices to iPod touch hardware for the 2009 holiday season.

Apple retail stores upgrading EasyPay from Windows to iPod touch
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Tipsters have all confirmed that Apple is already in the final stages of rolling out new EasyPay terminals based on the iPod touch combined with a credit card reader and barcode scanner.

One reader reported that the new devices are already being used to ring up sales at Apple’s Valley Fair Mall store in Santa Clara, California, the closest retail outlet to the company’s corporate headquarters in Cupertino.

“These things look really cool, much smaller than the Windows-based ones and faster too. They seem to be running a trial at that store, Palo [Alto] did not have them,” the reader said.

Back in April, AppleInsider reported that Apple had started work to replace its existing Pocket PC EasyPay devices built by Symbol and running Windows Mobile, made possible by new accessory support in the new iPhone 3.0 software.

Apple began using the Symbol devices (pictured below with a fake Windows 95 desktop; Apple’s devices have black and white screens and are equipped in a holster) to speed up checkout lines in its retail stores beginning in 2005, and continued using them even after two generations of the iPhone left some observers wondering why the company wasn’t using its own mobile platform.

EasyPay Pocket PC

Developing a custom solution based on the iPhone would have been an expensive project just to create a dozen or two devices for each of the company’s 225 retail stores. However, with the move to iPhone 3.0 and third party support for point of sale software and devices, there’s now little reason for Apple to stick with its slow, problematic Windows CE devices, which retail employees reported little satisfaction in using.

Like other Windows Mobile/Pocket PC devices, the EasyPay systems require a stylus to operate, they look clunky, and they’re susceptible to crashing or losing WiFi connectivity, all of which impact Apple’s ability to do business in a professional manner. Problems with EasyPay systems
were blamed for helping to create long lines at the launch of the iPhone 3G last year.

Existing EasyPay terminals “are huge old ugly pieces of junk,” one user confessed. “I hate these things. In the middle of a transaction, I’ll hit ‘next’ and end up dumped back at the login screen. It’s so frustrating.”

Existing Pocket PC EasyPay devices have an integrated barcode reader for identifying products without typing in their SKU, but “the barcode scanner takes five seconds to register,” complained one frustrated Apple Store employee in the busy retail flagship in downtown San Francisco. Once the purchased items are all entered, clicking on “tender” to add tax “takes forever,” another user familiar with the devices noted. “What is it doing? It’s just calculating the tax.”

Moving to the iPod touch will also help Apple demonstrate its products at work, and save the company money both in buying EasyPay terminals and in upkeep. Retail employees note that the company has to maintain a large inventory of the Symbol devices because so many of them have hardware or software issues. The Pocket PC devices cost between $800-$1000.

The company’s retail stores already use MacBook Pros running Mac OS X as stationary POS [point of sale] systems, but store managers encourage their employees to seek out customers who are waiting to make a purchase and help them with the handheld EasyPay systems.

“Apple’s own POS application on Mac OS X flies,” said one retail worker experienced with using both. Faster, more reliable new iPod touch EasyPay devices should help make mobile purchases not only easier, but also motivate employees to serve customers with less frustration and more enthusiasm.

Apple is also running a pilot program that allows its EasyPay-toting employees to accept cash for purchases, which the employees will then carry to cash drawers located under tables.

The new changes are expected to help the company’s retail stores improve the efficiency and level of service for customers during the holiday rush. Apple may be able to sell its old Pocket PC EasyPay terminals to Microsoft for use in its own retail stores.

  • sprockkets

    Ah, nice to see that crappy OS being tossed to the curb. I wish more would follow, because I fixed a BBQ’s restaurant’s pos POS server. The software on it is so lame – it requires WinXP since it can’t run on anything but IE6 in the system, yet it is a brand new server. So lame, that the sticker on the PC says Vista Business downgraded to run XP legally.

    Then they have the nerve to tie the pos POS software to the PC via the name of the PC, making it impossible to reinstall the app on a clean install of Windows when it got infected. Sad too, is the fact that it can’t have any update, nor can it run any a/v software or any firewall.

    DIE MICROSOFT DIE!!!

  • gus2000

    …there’s an app for that!

  • http://www.computingnotes.com/ David Chin

    “Apple may be able to sell its old Pocket PC EasyPay terminals to Microsoft for use in its own retail stores.”

    ROFLMAO!

  • http://blog.cytv.com cy_starkman

    While I have also wondered and believe the article there’s one issue not covered, signature.

    The one time I bought something from an AppleStore I used a credit card and signed for it on the device.

    How will they do that with an iPhone/Touch, strap on a reciept printer and you sign on a table or the employees back with a pen.

    A more interesting approach would be if they used the customers iTunes account to connect to their registered card.

    Anyway just wondering how they’ll do it

  • FreeRange

    you have to love the last sentence of this article!

    “Apple may be able to sell its old Pocket PC EasyPay terminals to Microsoft for use in its own retail stores.”

    And since MSFT has been recruiting former apple employees to work there, they will already be trained, not only in using these devices, but in referring people to the best phones, computers and music players in the market, all produced by Apple.

    Priceless.

  • http://www.adviespraktijk.info Berend Schotanus

    dogfooding…?

    ;-)

  • JasonBelec

    So cool! We have been working out solutions for some time now. Bar Code scanning is doable and works well now, a couple apps exist. The software to do the transactions exists, couple apps for that. A module that connects offering swiping is what we were waiting for and printing is wireless. So this is sounding cool for business! Currently we combine a couple apps from the AppStore and wirelessly connect to a modded Apple TV that has the traditional receipt printers connected. We are moving to ticket sales also, so this is wonderful news!!!

  • http://crankyoldnutcase.blogspot.com/ The Mad Hatter

    As someone who spent 3/4 of an hour buying two MacBook Pros at an Apple store last night, and paid by cash, much to the shock of staff, I can assure you that they need something to speed the process. Quite frankly it took too damned long, and the two long part (we walked into the store, already having decided on what we wanted) was the “electronic paperwork”.

    So, yes, if switching to the Touch platform would speed things up, that would be great. And the reps already carry Touch devices, along with the existing Pocket PC devices. Loose the Pocket PC device, and that’s one less thing they have to carry. All the staff is already trained on the Touch platform, the only additional training needed would be in the specific application, and I’ll assume that Apple knows how to build a simple, easy to use application. I don’t know why I’m making that assumption…

    Sarcasm aside, it could also be a good selling product for Apple. There’s lot of stores, where a roving sales clerk would be far more efficient than a row of registers at the front of the store. Think 21st century. Current store design would be familiar to Mr. Oleson from Little House on the Prairie.

  • chefmitch

    Pictures – I want pictures!!

    I’ll be stopping by my local Apple store today (Corte Madera, CA) to look at the 27″ iMac and new mouse. Who know, maybe they’ll have the new iPod Touch hardware.

  • donarb

    Whoa, what! As far as I’ve seen there are no barcode solutions for the iPod touch. Those that are available work only with the iPhone, because it requires a camera and works only with 2D codes. It would be nice if there was an attachment for a laser scanner but haven’t seen anything out there.

  • http://crankyoldnutcase.blogspot.com/ The Mad Hatter

    donarb

    Ah, but there is. Read Daniel’s article.

  • donarb

    I’ve read Daniel’s article. There is no mention of any vendors that provide laser barcode scanner attachments for the iPod/iPhone. Believe me, I’ve looked. Our company collects vehicle information using obsolete Symbol handhelds. These machines are flaky, susceptible to data loss due to shock, dying batteries and temperature extremes. I would love to create an application built around the touch for data collection purposes.

  • http://crankyoldnutcase.blogspot.com/ The Mad Hatter

    donarb

    You couldn’t have – or you were asleep while doing it. Read this:

    Multiple sources have noted that Apple will be transitioning its retail store EasyPay handheld checkout systems from Windows-based PDA devices to iPod touch hardware for the 2009 holiday season.

    Apple retail stores upgrading EasyPay from Windows to iPod touch
    .
    Tipsters have all confirmed that Apple is already in the final stages of rolling out new EasyPay terminals based on the iPod touch combined with a credit card reader and barcode scanner.

    One reader reported that the new devices are already being used to ring up sales at Apple’s Valley Fair Mall store in Santa Clara, California, the closest retail outlet to the company’s corporate headquarters in Cupertino.

    The text in bold italics is what you missed.

  • donarb

    I READ that. It sounds as though Apple has created a custom solution themselves, not clear if this is a card reader/scanner or a card reader and a separate scanner. I cannot find any mention anywhere else of a barcode scanner for sale that works with the iPod touch. Now if a vendor has created a barcode scanner attachment for the iPod that Apple has first crack at, great. But until I see it, I’m skeptical that this would work for our companies’ purpose.

    I just may go to my local Apple store and see if I can get an associate to show it to me, most likely these will be rolled out in the next month for all the stores in advance of the Christmas crunch.

  • chefmitch

    My local Apple store says they will be getting the new devices in the next few days. We shall see…..

  • 4phun

    You do not need an attachment to the iPhone 3GS to do barcodes. Read the following from the RedLaser web site carefully.

    There already are a few barcode related applications in the app store, but they all have one thing in common – they don’t really work. Red Laser, which has just hit the iTunes App Store, is the ultimate iPhone barcode scanner, which works just like one of those red-laser scanners at the checkout (hence the name.)

    Red Laser is made by Occipital, the minds behind ClearCam, the application which is responsible for greatly enhancing your iPhone’s camera.

    What Red Laser Does

    Scan an item, and instantly have access to a bunch of online prices and information. Scan movies at the store and beam them to your TiVo. Scan a book and check for online reviews. Scan a food item and add it to your grocery list.

    Features

    Beyond the fact that it’s the first accurate iPhone barcode scanner for UPC and EAN, probably the most noteworthy thing about RedLaser is that the developers are not keeping the technology locked in their own products. Instead, they’ve made an SDK available so others can integrate it in their apps too.

    The RedLaser application allows you to use Google product search to find online prices, and allows you to keep a list of all your scanned items.

    RedLaser is certainly a great shopping assistant for every iPhone user.

    enjoy the tip…

  • 4phun

    One other note is that the Atlanta Journal did a story of a restaurant here in Vinnings, Cobb County GA uses iPod Touches to run the whole restaurant. They take your display the latest specials, take your order, send it to the kitchen, generate a bill, process the card and send you an email with all the data as an extended receipt.

    I been meaning to go down there and see it too since I read about it a few weeks ago.

  • donarb

    I have a 3Gs,I’ve tested barcode apps with it, for my company’s purposes, a camera won’t do, it must be a laser. Our app is used to scan vin numbers on cars. The scanner must work in low light situations, through windshields, and in places where the vin sticker is located on curved surfaces. In addition, the 3Gs is an iPhone, which requires a cell phone contract for each unit. This is overkill for our needs.

  • http://crankyoldnutcase.blogspot.com/ The Mad Hatter

    I READ that. It sounds as though Apple has created a custom solution themselves, not clear if this is a card reader/scanner or a card reader and a separate scanner. I cannot find any mention anywhere else of a barcode scanner for sale that works with the iPod touch. Now if a vendor has created a barcode scanner attachment for the iPod that Apple has first crack at, great. But until I see it, I’m skeptical that this would work for our companies’ purpose.

    Don’t be an idiot. Of course they will sell it, Apple’s big push (but one that most people don’t know about) is business. When I mentioned I intended to use my new machine for business, the guy who was helping us got all excited, and tried to tell me about the business pages.

    It was quite funny really. My daughter and I knew more about the hardware, and what Apple was doing, than the poor guy that was taking care of us did. I’m not sure whether he was annoyed, or mortified by the end.

  • http://www.lowededwookie.com lowededwookie

    Ironically those thinking the barcode scanner is a laser are not entirely incorrect. It is actually an imaging device in similar vane to a camera. Of course this may be the case in older scanners but newer ones actually read a picture.

    One of our clients have terminals that sell scratch tickets and they scan using a barcode scanner. There is a test on the terminals that allows you to see if the scanner is working properly. The test is positive if an image is displayed on the screen. It works pretty much the same as a handheld scanner of days gone by except you don’t need to run it up and down the page or have it directly on the page.