updated 01:05 am EST, Thu December 2, 2010
Rumored for over a year, testing now underway
Although rumors that Apple was interested in further developing and selling its own in-house touch-based point-of-sale (POS) system have been floating around for a year, Apple has now partnered with The Gap-owned Old Navy to run a pilot program testing the mobile POS solution before bringing it to the wider retail market, according to representatives contacted by 9to5Mac.
9to5Mac received confirmation from an unnamed Gap spokesperson that "we are piloting Apple's iPod-based POS system at a few of our Old Navy stores."
The POS hardware involves a custom backing on an iPod Touch to allow the swiping of bank cards, with signatures being obtained using either a stylus or a finger, and receipts being printed wirelessly on a small, hip-holstered mobile thermal or a nearby printer station.
The system, known at Apple Stores as EasyPay, has been rebranded "ZipCheck" for testing purposes. Apple and The Gap have had a long-standing relationship, with Gap CEO Millard Drexler sitting on Apple's board of directors, and Apple CEO Steve Jobs on the board of Gap. EasyPay is an in-house solution used throughout the Apple retail chain, developed by the company after the retail stores opened; the company originally relied on a Windows CE-based mobile POS solution that, by all reports, was buggy and crash-prone.
The global POS market is estimated at around $9 billion, representing an attractive business market for Apple to get into with great consumer appeal -- though several companies have already started marketing iOS POS hardware/software combinations, most notably Twitter founder Jack Dorsey with his popular Square device. [via 9to5Mac]