Apple Testing POS Systems at Old Navy Stores: Report
As point of sale (POS) systems move farther into the mainstream consumer shopping ecosystem, Apple blog 9 to 5 Mac reported Gap-owned apparel store Old Navy is testing out the devices. The report was confirmed by a Gap, Inc. spokeswoman, who told the blog the company was indeed piloting the iPhone-based POS system at a handful of Old Navy retail outlets.
The device spotted in use at Old Navy was described by the blog as an "Apple PoS system...rebranded -ZipCheck' for third parties", which uses a modified iPod with barcode scanner to speed checkout procedures. The platform, originally called EasyPay, is already in use in select Apple stores around the country. The blog also features a photo of the iPod payment device in use: The picture shows a customer apparently signing for a purchase using her finger.
Apple argues most retail businesses - especially those that aspire to grow - can benefit greatly from the tools that a good retail POS system provides. "The general rule of thumb is that every retail business with gross annual sales of $250,000 or more needs a retail POS system in order to run efficiently and be competitive," the company's POS solutions Web page claimed. "A retail POS system is a good choice for any owner or manager who spends too much time on back-office activities instead of out front talking to customers, selling, learning what shoppers are looking for, providing customer service, and generally -minding the store'."
Apple isn't the only consumer electronics company edging into the POS market, however. This week, Roam Data launched an encrypted audio-coupled card reader for BlackBerry devices, which comprises approximately 30 percent of the smart phone market in the US. Roam enables merchants with BlackBerry devices to securely swipe customers' payment cards with reduced transaction fees by plugging-in Roam's reader into the handset's audio jack.
One scalable mCommerce app that runs on Roam's application platform Rails is RoamPay, a mobile merchants payment card acceptance app. RoamPay Swipe is the universal reader peripheral that plugs into the 3.5mm audio jack of most mobile devices and has built-in encryption. The application's device coverage includes Apple products (iPhone 3G, 3GS, 4; iPad, iPod Touch), a variety of Android powered devices, PCs, Macs and netbooks.
Whether in retail outlets or consumers pockets, Apple is well positioned to lead the market for mobile devices in the coming year. According to Canaccord Genuity technology analyst Michael Walkley, Apple would continue to dominate the global market for mobile devices in 2011. "Based on continued strong sell-through trends for the iPad and iPhone, we believe Apple will maintain both market and profit share leadership in these fast growing markets," he said.
Based on research conducted by Walkley, Apple had 47 percent of industry profits for mobile devices and tablets during the 3rd quarter of 2010. The next nearest competitor was BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) with 18 percent. During the 4th quarter of 2010, Walkley forecast that Apple would sell 6.3 million iPads, up from his earlier estimate of 5.0 million. During 2010, Apple market share of tablets will be approximately 75 percent, according to his projections and in 2011, Apple market share of tables would be approximately 50 percent.