Growing up in New York City in the 50s and 60s I have very clear memories of my family’s decision to replace an important piece of furniture in our house. The beautiful console, Danish style black and white television was to be removed and replaced with a color TV. My family was “cutting edge”; no one was sure whether the networks were going to produce sufficient color programming to make the investment worthwhile.
Fast forward to the 1970’s when my wife and I, young marrieds with a fledgling family of our own, took the huge risk of investing $350 in a VHS recorder. No one was sure that Beta Max wouldn’t win the recording technology war, but we accidentally made the right guess. Over the intervening decades, all of us have had the opportunity to put our chips in the pot for some video technology. Would plasma be the dominant technology for flat panels? Would DVD recorders settle on a +R or –R format and would players be able to run both? Will we be stuck with wearing 3D glasses for years, or will the Sharp natural viewing technology emerge as 3D programming proliferates?
For 20 years now, computing for personal and small business has been a “settled” issue. As late as the end of the 80s (the first IBM PC came out in 1981), PCs were considered a fun add on to a household, but only very small businesses and exotic markets like computer aided design could commit to them as professional tools. IBM briefly came to dominate the market when their decision to use MS-DOS signaled the eventual end of CPM and the relegation of Unix and the early Apple OS to also ran status. IBM miscalculated, in the Micro Channel and OS2 era that it was THEY who drove the desktop market place, only to realize too late that an operating system called “Windows” which they had underwritten the development for was the actual driver of technology decisions. It wasn’t the best OS on the planet, and it crashed often, but it created an industry for computer and peripheral manufacturers and for small businesses and even individuals to write software that made them into very big businesses. There was a standard, and folks saw that it was good (at least mostly).
The second decade of the 21st century has begun to turn “settled” on its ear for the first time in decades. Apple, seeing the devolution of the Mac OS into specific markets, went back to the drawing board. Its target was the emerging worldwide thirst for mobile technology in your pocket, initially cellular phones. They correctly deduced that if a phone could be made powerful enough to do more than just make phone calls, yet remain in a cost profile just slightly higher than ordinary phones that people would clamor for them. The only other player in the market area originally, RIM’s Blackberry, became the current technology candidate for the “CPM” award – very good, very clean, but not exciting.
In the few years after the iPhone proved that mobile computing could exist literally in the palm of your hand, Apple has gone on to recreate a market for tablet computing. There was a generation of tablets available using Windows in the 2000s, but they failed to spark the imagination of users. Apple proved there was a market to be won.
But is Apple the Beta Max of this product evolution in the long run? Google introduced the Android operating system just over 2 years ago. In the past 16 months it has gone from a virtual standstill to twice the global market penetrated by iOS. More than 30 companies manufacture phones and tablets that use the Android OS and the market for the devices, peripherals and applications using Android has skyrocketed. Few applications today are Apple exclusive.
For GRS, the phone/tablet market is the emerging market to watch and to start to deploy, but CAREFULLY. The GRS mobile ordering application is available to all GRS customers using our online ordering, and integrated with all our POS systems. We’ve got an i-pad based self-serve / kiosk ordering application coming out, and we're looking into table side ordering, mobile payments, mobile loyalty offers and more. BUT we’re proceeding with some degree of caution. Development in both Apple and Android environments has been so rapid, it’s the wild west of technology right now. The safety and security of our solutions, especially payment processing solutions, is paramount. As a result, we are developing new tools, but doing so with caution.
We’re keeping our ears to the ground and sights focused on how mobile technology is evolving, what tools will be safe vs. unsafe, critical vs. just fluff, and aligning our development to meet your needs as we see this exciting market evolve. We welcome your thoughts and input as we evaluate what will help make your operations a greater success!