According to a report today on AppleInsider, it appears that Apple has created its own iPod based point-of-sale software and hardware. The hardware appears hardened and designed for retail. It also appears this device could be sold for significantly less than traditional handheld retail devices. I realize ‘less expensive’ is not the typical pricing model for Apple, but if they could make this device available more as an enhanced iPod, they could have tens of thousands of these in use at retail and restaurant chains in two years. I realize also that this is chump change and doesn’t drive other revenue streams directly (like iTunes), however this gets them into the retail stores – a space I would argue is largely dominated by Microsoft – and if leveraged correctly by Apple, could open the retail solutions marketplace to them over the next decade.
On the software side, there are still challenges because of the more closed nature of the app store, but this is certainly interesting if Apple decides to market the hardened device outside its own retail stores.
Lots of conjecture here, but this is worth watching. For more info, see the full article by Gary Allen of ifoAppleStore for AppleInsider.