How Will The Next iPad Change Retail?

By David Sauter, CEO

Published: December 10, 2014


Apple iPad

Rumors of a larger iPad have been passed around the Apple rumor-mill for several months now. Often referred to as the iPad Pro and with increasing frequency the iPad AirPlus, the number of disparate leaks gives credence to the imminent release of the device. Most recently hardware schematics were leaked leading some to predict Apple is moving out of the prototype stage and preparing it’s partners for production.

The biggest question left unanswered is what Apple’s goal is for the new device. Unlike the larger iPhone, there is no reason to assume consumers will be open to such a large device. With a rumored screen size larger than a Macbook Air, the best guess is that Apple is targeting  enterprise and educational markets.

The usefulness within the education market remains to be seen, but enterprise is another story altogether. Of the many enterprise solutions, the main one that stands out is its use as a kiosk point of sales solution. A niche market, most consumers view kiosks and self-checkout as poor user-experiences. The reason for this varies but often results from cheap hardware that is not responsive to user-touch and user-workflows that are poorly conceived; issues Apple is known for avoiding.

Use of iPads in kiosk and point-of-sales systems isn’t new, but a larger screen size will make such systems even more visually appealing. Large companies such as McDonalds have already begun to experiment with consumer facing ordering systems.

This has been tied to the heated debated about minimum wage laws, but the interesting part is not the reduction in labor costs. As self-checkouts have shown, the sales clerk is not in danger of extinction anytime soon. What is truly intriguing about these systems is how they are being leveraged to expand the experience, in McDonalds’ case by allowing the customer to create off-menu items. Almost as an after-thought, they have leveraged these interfaces to create all-new customer experiences that are not easy to implement in the traditional customer-to-clerk relationship.

The main hurdle becomes cost. While large companies can afford the investment cost and will benefit from economies of scale, the typical small business will only ever need one or two kiosks  at most. With each business needing its own customizations to truly match what McDonalds is doing, the investment using traditional kiosk technology is huge. A larger iPad means there will be hundreds of thousands of iOS developers available to create new and reimagine existing experiences.