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Apple retail stores to upgrade from Windows-based EasyPay to iPod touch

post #1 of 117
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Multiple sources have noted that Apple will be transitioning its retail store EasyPay handheld checkout systems from Windows-based PDA devices to iPod touch hardware for the 2009 holiday season.

Tipsters have all confirmed that Apple is already in the final stages of rolling out new EasyPay terminals based on the iPod touch combined with a credit card reader and barcode scanner.

One reader reported that the new devices are already being used to ring up sales at Apple's Valley Fair Mall store in Santa Clara, California, the closest retail outlet to the company's corporate headquarters in Cupertino.

"These things look really cool, much smaller than the Windows-based ones and faster too. They seem to be running a trial at that store, Palo [Alto] did not have them," the reader said.

Back in April, AppleInsider reported that Apple had started work to replace its existing Pocket PC EasyPay devices built by Symbol and running Windows Mobile, made possible by new accessory support in the new iPhone 3.0 software.

Apple began using the Symbol devices (pictured below with a fake Windows 95 desktop; Apple's devices have black and white screens and are equipped in a holster) to speed up checkout lines in its retail stores beginning in 2005, and continued using them even after two generations of the iPhone left some observers wondering why the company wasn't using its own mobile platform.



Developing a custom solution based on the iPhone would have been an expensive project just to create a dozen or two devices for each of the company's 225 retail stores. However, with the move to iPhone 3.0 and third party support for point of sale software and devices, there's now little reason for Apple to stick with its slow, problematic Windows CE devices, which retail employees reported little satisfaction in using.

Like other Windows Mobile/Pocket PC devices, the EasyPay systems require a stylus to operate, they look clunky, and they're susceptible to crashing or losing WiFi connectivity, all of which impact Apple's ability to do business in a professional manner. Problems with EasyPay systems
were blamed for helping to create long lines at the launch of the iPhone 3G last year.

Existing EasyPay terminals "are huge old ugly pieces of junk," one user confessed. "I hate these things. In the middle of a transaction, I'll hit 'next' and end up dumped back at the login screen. It's so frustrating."

Existing Pocket PC EasyPay devices have an integrated barcode reader for identifying products without typing in their SKU, but "the barcode scanner takes five seconds to register," complained one frustrated Apple Store employee in the busy retail flagship in downtown San Francisco. Once the purchased items are all entered, clicking on "tender" to add tax "takes forever," another user familiar with the devices noted. "What is it doing? It's just calculating the tax."

Moving to the iPod touch will also help Apple demonstrate its products at work, and save the company money both in buying EasyPay terminals and in upkeep. Retail employees note that the company has to maintain a large inventory of the Symbol devices because so many of them have hardware or software issues. The Pocket PC devices cost between $800-$1000.

The company's retail stores already use MacBook Pros running Mac OS X as stationary POS [point of sale] systems, but store managers encourage their employees to seek out customers who are waiting to make a purchase and help them with the handheld EasyPay systems.

"Apple's own POS application on Mac OS X flies," said one retail worker experienced with using both. Faster, more reliable new iPod touch EasyPay devices should help make mobile purchases not only easier, but also motivate employees to serve customers with less frustration and more enthusiasm.

Apple is also running a pilot program that allows its EasyPay-toting employees to accept cash for purchases, which the employees will then carry to cash drawers located under tables.

The new changes are expected to help the company's retail stores improve the efficiency and level of service for customers during the holiday rush. Apple may be able to sell its old Pocket PC EasyPay terminals to Microsoft for use in its own retail stores.

Update: IFOAppleStore also notes that Apple will be getting rid of its color-coded shirts for retail employees, which were intended to identify different employee roles. Orange, dark blue, light blue, medium blue and black shirts are currently issued to specialists, genus bar workers, concierge greeters, and so on, but the different uniform colors were found to be more confusing than helpful to customers. Apple will return to using a single shirt color for all store employees, which will change over time. The site also confirms that Apple will move to iPod touch EasyPay devices across the board for the holiday season.
post #2 of 117
Praise the LAWD- FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!
post #3 of 117
These whiny employees that are complaining about it now- Why? Because they actually had to do something rather than just BS on the salesfloor? Half of them barely know what their talking about anyway and just basically spew some Apple weekly mission statement that they must have to memorize on a Sunday night. I been checked out with the system NUMEROUS times and never, ever had a problem- and it was extremely FAST. I would get the email receipt right there within seconds on my iPhone.
post #4 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Like other Windows Mobile/Pocket PC devices, the EasyPay systems require a stylus to operate, they look clunky, and they're susceptible to crashing or losing WiFi connectivity, all of which impact Apple's ability to do business in a professional manner...

Apple may be able to sell its old Pocket PC EasyPay terminals to Microsoft for use in its own retail stores.

That made me

That being said, it's not like Apple had anything better else to use until now.
post #5 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

"Apple's own POS application on Mac OS X flies,"

\ An most unfortunate acronym. Insert an apposite has and you have a very serviceable quote there.
Aside from that bag of hurt, Mrs Lincoln, what did you think of the play?
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Aside from that bag of hurt, Mrs Lincoln, what did you think of the play?
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post #6 of 117
Hehe, the funniest part was when they said "pictured with a fake Windows 95 desktop." Hmm, isn't that WINDOWS CE?!!!!

Come on, they should at least know that.
post #7 of 117
Quote:
Apple may be able to sell its old Pocket PC EasyPay terminals to Microsoft for use in its own retail stores.

Is this AI's attempt at a joke? Or to be taken seriously? Why would they want used products? Do they have a refurbishing store like Apple or something?
post #8 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

These whiny employees that are complaining about it now- Why? Because they actually had to do something rather than just BS on the salesfloor? Half of them barely know what their talking about anyway and just basically spew some Apple weekly mission statement that they must have to memorize on a Sunday night. I been checked out with the system NUMEROUS times and never, ever had a problem- and it was extremely FAST. I would get the email receipt right there within seconds on my iPhone.

Well, I've only been in an Apple Store once to buy something, and that was to purchase my iPhone 3G S on launch day. The salesperson had no problems checking me out at all. They swiped my card and I was in out within a few minutes.

That being said, I'm not an Apple employee, so I don't have to deal with them on a daily basis.
post #9 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mazda 3s View Post

That made me

That being said, it's not like Apple had anything better else to use until now.

Don't laugh- It's taken Apple 5 years to get their own?
Who knew Microsoft was such an innovator?
post #10 of 117
They had better work flawlessly, every time. That was the advantage of using Windows devices: you would blame the competitor. Now if checkout is slow--perhaps because of a backend issue that has nothing to do with the handheld--people are going to say/think "maybe these things are only toys after all."

The other day I saw the blue screen of death on the video displays at my local train station (which normally provide schedule and status information). I wouldn't want to see an Apple logo associated with that sort of snafu.
post #11 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

These whiny employees that are complaining about it now- Why? Because they actually had to do something rather than just BS on the salesfloor? Half of them barely know what their talking about anyway and just basically spew some Apple weekly mission statement that they must have to memorize on a Sunday night. I been checked out with the system NUMEROUS times and never, ever had a problem- and it was extremely FAST. I would get the email receipt right there within seconds on my iPhone.

if your reading comprehension were adequate, you'd note that the complaints dated back throughout Apple's entire use of Pocket PC devices. The quotes here are from previous articles (see the fancy hyperlinks? they work in IE, don't they?)

As far as your praise for the clunky old EasyPay (because it was designed by Microsoft), you might be surprised to find out that neither Pocket PC nor Windows CE has anything to do with how fast Internet mail works. They both do have an adverse impact on usability however, as AI's historical coverage has documented.
post #12 of 117
I'm all for Apple moving forward but let's not do this right before the heavist retail demand they will have. A good break in period is a requirement to deal all potential bugs and regressions - you don't want to do this when your stores are flooded with custmers itchy to spend cash.


Dave
post #13 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glockpop View Post

if your reading comprehension were adequate, you'd note that the complaints dated back throughout Apple's entire use of Pocket PC devices. The quotes here are from previous articles (see the fancy hyperlinks? they work in IE, don't they?)

As far as your praise for the clunky old EasyPay (because it was designed by Microsoft), you might be surprised to find out that neither Pocket PC nor Windows CE has anything to do with how fast Internet mail works. They both do have an adverse impact on usability however, as AI's historical coverage has documented.

Not just the mail - the whole check out was swift, fast and accurate. I don't care who made it- it just worked.
post #14 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

I'm all for Apple moving forward but let's not do this right before the heavist retail demand they will have. A good break in period is a requirement to deal all potential bugs and regressions - you don't want to do this when your stores are flooded with custmers itchy to spend cash.


Dave

not to mention cash under the tables? Sounds so Madoff-ish.
post #15 of 117
Hopefully Apple will make a product out of this for small retailers.

It would make a great package with the Mac mini Server.
post #16 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by Owl View Post

Hehe, the funniest part was when they said "pictured with a fake Windows 95 desktop." Hmm, isn't that WINDOWS CE?!!!!

Come on, they should at least know that.

That pic is stock photography AI grabbed from the web, probably Symbol's product catalog. It's quite obviously Win95 (see RecycleBin and My Computer) and is clearly fit into the hardware pic.

WinCE doesn't have a specific look, but it never looks like that. If you look at EasyPay devices in Apple Stores, they are all full of Win 3.x looking checkboxes and drop down menus. Looks like some crap Access screen. They're also B&W, not color.
post #17 of 117
No great shock that they are doing this, but the timing seems a little strange to me. Introducing a large change to their point of sale system this close to the Christmas rush seems to be inviting trouble.
post #18 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

I'm all for Apple moving forward but let's not do this right before the heavist retail demand they will have. A good break in period is a requirement to deal all potential bugs and regressions - you don't want to do this when your stores are flooded with custmers itchy to spend cash.


Dave

yeah, Apple is such an amateur retailer. Perhaps you can straighten them out. I'm sure any sort of early adopter problems will pale compared to the trash that is Windows CE.

I mean really, saying Apple will have transition problems moving from Windows CE is about as hilariously retarded as anything coming out of techsnuff.
post #19 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple began using the Symbol devices (pictured below with a fake Windows 95 desktop; Apple's devices have black and white screens and are equipped in a holster) to speed up checkout lines in its retail stores beginning in 2005, and continued using them even after two generations of the iPhone left some observers wondering why the company wasn't using its own mobile platform.

retail stores are full of all sorts of computer systems for inventory etc that have to be worked with, it's not a shock that it took some time to create the software connections AND the hardware. i've seen those test gadgets and it it is slick. and not something pieced together in a day.

Especially when you consider that Apple likely designed the rigs themselves, created the 3.0 update for their use (and then decided to push that bit out for everyone)

Quote:
Problems with EasyPay systems
were blamed for helping to create long lines at the launch of the iPhone 3G last year.

hardly. even with the issues of typing in all that info the real lines issue was ATT's system being too dang slow and even crashing. i remember, I was there with a friend that was getting a phone. it was ugly.

Existing EasyPay terminals "are huge old ugly pieces of junk," one user confessed. "I hate these things. In the middle of a transaction, I'll hit 'next' and end up dumped back at the login screen. It's so frustrating."

Quote:
The company's retail stores already use MacBook Pros running Mac OS X as stationary POS [point of sale] systems, but store managers encourage their employees to seek out customers who are waiting to make a purchase and help them with the handheld EasyPay systems.

shopping in several stores I've noticed that those computers are always right in the middle of the Genius Bar and Studio. so if they rely on them, you get long lines and noise around those areas. which would definitely piss off the folks that paid for training.

Quote:
Apple may be able to sell its old Pocket PC EasyPay terminals to Microsoft for use in its own retail stores.

wonder what they will do with them. ship them to the microsoft stores? or perhaps they will license out this new rig (if they made it) and we'll see Microsoft Retail running on ipods too. since they have copied everything else

Quote:
Update: IFOAppleStore also notes that Apple will be getting rid of its color-coded shirts for retail employees, which were intended to identify different employee roles.

i could have called that. at least the dropping of the orange and light blue. cause it seems like they are doing the same things now.

I actually noticed that the concierge folks are using touches as well to check folks in. I wonder if these new rigs will have that as well. making both groups doing both sets of tasks. thus why have two colors. the back room folks (the geniuses and trainers) might still be in a different color, as might the stock folks (who are in black I believe), since they actually do different things

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post #20 of 117
Finally!!! Its so embarrassing that Apple has had to use their competitors product for sales for such a long time!

Sad though, that now I can't poke fun at them for using Windows devices in their stores. I quite liked that.


As for t-shirt colors... does the un-named guy in the red shirt always get fired at the end of the day.
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post #21 of 117
I think anyone with half a brain knew that this would be coming eventually.

My guess on why it took so long is that they wanted to Get It Right.

I've definitely experienced several glitches, bugs and crashes while being checked out with one of those dastardly things. Several Apple employees have complained about them, while using em.

Side note: I bought a CD from a band a couple weeks ago and they took credit cards!
On their . . . iPhone with one of the merchant Credit Card approval apps. So awesome.
post #22 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by camroidv27 View Post

Finally!!! Its so embarrassing that Apple has had to use their competitors product for sales for such a long time!

Yeah, BootCamp is so embarrassing as well.... wait, so is allowing Macs to run MS Office.....
post #23 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by cinder View Post

I think anyone with half a brain knew that this would be coming eventually.

My guess on why it took so long is that they wanted to Get It Right.

It takes 5 years to get existing old technology "Right"?
Oh wait, I forgot it took 2 years to get 10 year old MMS technology "Right" also. Meanwhile my 7 year old Verizon MMS had saved phrases that I didn't have to keep typing every time I want to know such basics as "where are you" or "what's going on?"
post #24 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

Not just the mail - the whole check out was swift, fast and accurate. I don't care who made it- it just worked.

Kudo's to Apple for making the process even better. When did that become a bad thing? And when did asking employees what they think and acting become whining?

In looking over your posts, I suppose if this article had been that Apple was holding off on the redesign of the system, that you would have been disappointed with that also.
post #25 of 117
Quote:
Apple is also running a pilot program that allows its EasyPay-toting employees to accept cash for purchases, which the employees will then carry to cash drawers located under tables.

Gee, what could possibly go wrong with that setup?

I truly hope that source is wrong - cash needs to be handled in a secure area, not out in the open.
post #26 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Yeah, BootCamp is so embarrassing as well.... wait, so is allowing Macs to run MS Office.....

I'd say the embarassing part of BootCamp, and more so the VMware/Parellels, is how many mac buyers also BUY full retail Windows just for Office and such. Windows, even when running (especially when running) inside OS X or on Mac's hardware (which is a PC) is still virus laden windows (unless you do it right, which is pretty easy to keep safe on Windows.) Didn't people buy a Mac to get away from all that?
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post #27 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

These whiny employees that are complaining about it now- Why? Because they actually had to do something rather than just BS on the salesfloor? Half of them barely know what their talking about anyway and just basically spew some Apple weekly mission statement that they must have to memorize on a Sunday night. I been checked out with the system NUMEROUS times and never, ever had a problem- and it was extremely FAST. I would get the email receipt right there within seconds on my iPhone.

Who's whiny?
post #28 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by rbonner View Post

Kudo's to Apple for making the process even better. When did that become a bad thing? And when did asking employees what they think and acting become whining?

In looking over your posts, I suppose if this article had been that Apple was holding off on the redesign of the system, that you would have been disappointed with that also.

1.) How do you know its better- have you personally seen it ? NO>
2.) I'm not saying its good or bad - just LATE>
3.) When they actually whine.

I was one of the first people ever to bring it up at AI that it even existed- it was such a secret. Go blow your nose.
post #29 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

I'm all for Apple moving forward but let's not do this right before the heavist retail demand they will have. A good break in period is a requirement to deal all potential bugs and regressions - you don't want to do this when your stores are flooded with custmers itchy to spend cash.


Dave

They have been using the iPod Touch for Concierge duties for awhile. I don't think the switch would be all that difficult. Especially since most of the employees would be proficient at using an iPod Touch/iPhone anyway. I can attest, it takes forever to type in anything on a Symbol device. I can type on the virtual keyboard a lot faster.
post #30 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

These whiny employees that are complaining about it now- Why? Because they actually had to do something rather than just BS on the salesfloor? Half of them barely know what their talking about anyway and just basically spew some Apple weekly mission statement that they must have to memorize on a Sunday night. I been checked out with the system NUMEROUS times and never, ever had a problem- and it was extremely FAST. I would get the email receipt right there within seconds on my iPhone.

Classy.
I think someone needs a little quite time for himself.
post #31 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

These whiny employees that are complaining about it now- Why? Because they actually had to do something rather than just BS on the salesfloor? Half of them barely know what their talking about anyway and just basically spew some Apple weekly mission statement that they must have to memorize on a Sunday night. I been checked out with the system NUMEROUS times and never, ever had a problem- and it was extremely FAST. I would get the email receipt right there within seconds on my iPhone.

There you go again - this is pretty low, even for you. You are a hateful person.

I've been checked out through the Apple Store "Easy Pay" system five or six times. One time the employee's handheld didn't work. He borrowed someone else's, and it didn't work either. He had to find a third one to check me out (he said it happens often - he didn't mention that the handheld ran Windows, and he didn't say anything disparaging about it. He was actually a real person, talking to another real person!). Both times it took about 5 minutes for the system to show it wasn't working - it took the input, but gave an error message after a delay.

One other time my order was processed okay, but the terminal couldn't send the receipt (by the usual e-mail). I agreed that it was okay if the receipt came later, and it did finally show up in my e-mail a day or two later.

Yeah, the other 3-4 times the system worked great.
post #32 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

These whiny employees that are complaining about it now- Why? Because they actually had to do something rather than just BS on the salesfloor? Half of them barely know what their talking about anyway and just basically spew some Apple weekly mission statement that they must have to memorize on a Sunday night. I been checked out with the system NUMEROUS times and never, ever had a problem- and it was extremely FAST. I would get the email receipt right there within seconds on my iPhone.

You know, you're statements are just becoming more unbelievable as time goes on. I've had problems with sales people using these for some time. When we got our iPhones September 2008, the device our sales person had kept screwing up. It got so bad, the we had to use my wife's credit card and name instead of mine, because after breaking down the third time, it wouldn't allow mine to be entered again. She ended having to go to the back, where they fixed the problems before we could finish our transaction. I'm not alone in this.

With a simple transaction it does better.

But we've been hearing about problems with these since the beginning. Other stores that use them have problems as well. It's old technology, and CE is not the most reliable OS. PDa's using it used to crash all the time, and Win Mobile, which is based on it is no better, as it crashes all the time as well.
post #33 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by malax View Post

They had better work flawlessly, every time. That was the advantage of using Windows devices: you would blame the competitor.

and the advantage to controlling the hardware and software is that it is easier to fix it cause you don't have to call someone else.

a good chunk of the reason this has taken so long is likely cause they were testing to avoid problems

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post #34 of 117
Only one page? No convoluted, half-correct, over-blown "analysis"? No "buy my book" link at the bottom? Are you sure the by line is right? This can't possibly be a story from Prince/DED...
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post #35 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

Don't laugh- It's taken Apple 5 years to get their own?
Who knew Microsoft was such an innovator?

Only the OS is MS's. The rest is made by someone else, as is the terminal software.
post #36 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by nonstopdesign View Post

Who's whiny?

Here (spoon attached)-

one user confessed. "I hate these things. In the middle of a transaction, I'll hit 'next' and end up dumped back at the login screen. It's so frustrating."

Existing Pocket PC EasyPay devices have an integrated barcode reader for identifying products without typing in their SKU, but "the barcode scanner takes five seconds to register," complained one frustrated Apple Store employee in the busy retail flagship in downtown San Francisco. Once the purchased items are all entered, clicking on "tender" to add tax "takes forever," another user familiar with the devices noted. "What is it doing? It's just calculating the tax."
post #37 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by camroidv27 View Post

Didn't people buy a Mac to get away from all that?

Not always. Many people use both. For instance, in my case, 95% OSX, 5% XP (there is some software that I use which are PC-only).

PS: I probably should have added a 'mild sarcasm' tag to my previous post. ;-)
post #38 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

Not just the mail - the whole check out was swift, fast and accurate. I don't care who made it- it just worked.

You've clearly never worked in retail and dealt with slow devices with people breathing down your neck.
You really need some time in working folks' shoes guy.
post #39 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by I. Pod MacNut View Post

They have been using the iPod Touch for Concierge duties for awhile. I don't think the switch would be all that difficult. Especially since most of the employees would be proficient at using an iPod Touch/iPhone anyway. I can attest, it takes forever to type in anything on a Symbol device. I can type on the virtual keyboard a lot faster.

So, where on the App Store can we purchase the "Apple Checkout" program? It had to be approved and such I would assume... it is Apple right? You could make it so you can checkout and buy your own stuff. I guess this may put people out of a job though...
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post #40 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Only the OS is MS's. The rest is made by someone else, as is the terminal software.

So then why is AI speculating that MS would buy them back?
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