Hewlett-Packard is adding self-service, customer-facing kiosks to its portfolio of retail applications.
HP announced the availability of its new kiosk solutions April 17 at the KioskCom Conference & Exposition in Las Vegas.
"We have provided clients with customized kiosk solutions in the past on an ad-hoc basis," said Phillip Cutrone, manager of HP's North America commercial third-party solutions business. "We're taking kiosks and making them available directly from HP for all customers."
Cutrone said HP is now making kiosks available on a broad basis in response to growing demand from its customers and the marketplace in general.
"Customer requests for ad-hoc custom kiosks have increased exponentially in the past few years. The market is growing. The time is right for HP and right for kiosks," he said.
HP will manage kiosks as part of its overall toolset.
"We manage our technology from PCs through the data center to the kiosks as one set of tools," Cutrone said. "We keep it all secure as one set of tools. The end-to-end technology expertise HP has lends itself to helping customers with their complex kiosk deployments."
HP kiosks will operate the same way as any other thin client in a retailer's infrastructure, according to Cutrone.
"We're taking the existing thin client configuration and leveraging it inside kiosks," he said. "It's very seamless."
Cutrone said HP will provide the functionality of its business desktop portfolio, as well as functionality from HP technology partners, within the kiosk format. HP will offer the option of using standard kiosk enclosures from its technology partner Kiosk Information Systems and continue to perform kiosk custom design services, he said.
Cutrone said that while technology in general can increase revenues, decrease costs and improve efficiency, many vertical markets are now reaching the tipping point for customer-facing technologies.
"Technology is becoming an expected aspect of 21st century life," he stated. "Kids are growing up with it."
Rufus Connell, vice president of information and communication technology for consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, said lifecycle and project management are two areas where HP may be able to most distinguish itself in the kiosk marketplace.
"The real problem with kiosks is you must manage their entire lifecycle," Connell said. "This is where HP can compete with an advantage, especially compared to smaller turnkey kiosk integrators."
He said extensive project management and technical resources have allowed leading business technology providers IBM and NCR to take dominant positions in the self-service kiosk market, and HP has the capability to become a third major option. He said HP has actually been in the self-service kiosk arena for some time, partnering with Kiosk Information Systems to provide branded photo kiosks and also supplying PC hardware that is used in kiosk enclosures from other vendors.
Dan Berthiaume covers the retail space for eWEEK. For more industry news, check out eWEEK.com's Retail Site.