iPod: not a tricorder, but an “anything device”

Tricorder (noun): a fantastic futuristic device that Apple's turned into the equivalent of the 1980's brick cell phone

Just saw that Gap is starting to pilot Apple’s iPod-based point of sale system in some of their Old Navy stores.  I saw this coming, which isn’t to say I’m a genius, since it’s pretty obvious, but it’s really exciting to see this happening.

In a past life, I built online event registration systems (a.k.a. buy tickets online,) and we had to use expensive handheld scanners to make check-in work at the door. The technology’s ready for custom (or generic, really) apps that can do this on $250 hardware (there was a custom app on the old scanners, so assume the coding cost is the same,) and more specifically, hardware that has a use beyond the event, which might solve a lot of the deployment challenges for one-off venues.

The iPod touch and iPhone family of devices can be compared to the Star Trek tricorders, but I think that’s too limiting.  Granted, the Star Trek universe didn’t have a lot of retail stores, but how many people thought of commerce when they saw a tricorder on TV?  They’re measuring devices, basically, and the iPod is much more.

But as I alluded to earlier, the most exciting part, to me, is the low price point.  We’re going to see these devices in a lot of specialized roles, possibly with add-on hardware but mostly leveraging the onboard electronics and the iOS SDK.  Putting aside the incredible bonus that these devices are sexy and consumer-engaging, the commodity nature of the things (need more?  Go to Best Buy!) makes maintenance a breeze, and every potential customer knows what they are.

We’re going to see a lot more of these plays, from a lot more companies.


One response to “iPod: not a tricorder, but an “anything device””

  1. […] up on my last post about the iPod (and by that I mean all iOS devices) being an “anything device,” New […]

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