updated 03:24 am EDT, Fri June 8, 2012
Over 7,000 units ordered by OTG group
A national airport restaurant operator, OTG, has opted to place more than 7,000 third-generation iPads at its locations in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Toronto and New York's LaGuardia airports after a strong demand in a pilot program, and foresees using "tens of thousands" or possibly more in the years to come, according to AppleInsider. Customers can use the secured iPads not just to call for service or as a menu, but also for games, Facebook and other options.
The devices were tested at table and bar sides for an 18-month pilot program and met with great reception. The units feature centralized management, proprietary apps, and a per-use security system that clears device history every time users hit the "home" button, making the iPads useful even for checking Facebook or bank accounts. In addition, using a tablet for a menu allows items (and prices) to be updated instantly, and the units even have a "help" icon that signals staff that users need attention.
Over the next 18 months, around 2,000 to 2,500 iPads will be deployed at OTG's eateries in the three airports. About 400 are already in use at New York's LaGuardia. The iPad will eventually also be used to advertise specials, and plans include a storefront where customers can order travel accessories directly and pick them up while still in the airport.
During the original testing, OTG used the iPads fixed into a casing that prevented movement, but testers found the arrangement less wieldy, so the new stands allow for a tethered connection as customers often see in retail stores dealing with electronics. The stands, which the company hopes will eventually be on every table in the chain's outlets, also provide USB ports and AC power for charging while customers relax and wait for their flights.
The implementation has given the company a competitive edge over rivals and it plans to expand the program to additional restaurants and lounges in the seven other airports in which it operates, including O'Hare in Chicago, Boston Logan, Orlando, Washington National and others. Overall the company believes the initial order for 7,000 new iPads will be the "largest consumer-facing deployment in the world" outside Apple's own stores, said OTG CEO Rick Blatstein in a statement. [via AppleInsider]