updated 06:05 pm EDT, Fri April 10, 2009
Apple Dropping EasyPay
Apple will take advantage of the support for external hardware in iPhone OS 3.0 to finally replace the Windows Mobile-based EasyPay transaction handhelds at retail stores with iPod touch devices, sources speaking to AppleInsider claim. Once the new firmware is available, the company will reportedly give store staff iPod touch units loaded with custom point-of-sale apps as well as card readers to process the payments. They would also handle the store's Concierge, ordering and other store operations without requiring separate hardware.
Under the plan, deployments would start in July -- the month after the company's Worldwide Developer Conference, where many expect a new iPhone release likely to trigger a sales rush -- and would continue until all stores use the system in September.
Apple began using the Symbol-made (now Motorola) EasyPay devices in late 2005 as a method of speeding up purchases by Mac Specialists and other store staff process sales on the floor. It proved successful and ultimately led to the company reducing or even eliminating the conventional cashier locations in some of its stores. In spite of this, Apple has encountered problems with the EasyPay's systems' tendencies to respond slowly and to crash, particularly during high-profile launches where the software affects the number of customers that can be handled in a short time span.
Switching to the iPod touch would not only reduce these issues but would be an important symbolic gesture for Apple, which has had to use Windows Mobile for its on-the-spot payments even two years after the iPhone was first introduced. iPods have already been in limited use as overflow for booking appointments through the Concierge system and for monitoring store performance, but without hardware support could never be carried regularly by store staff.
Windows Mobile has regularly been used in many industrial and retail devices in recent years both due to its support for custom hardware as well as its origins as an operating system for PDAs, while competing operating systems like BlackBerry OS and Symbian are built more specifically for cellphones.