The Kiosk is Dead: There’s an App for That

Posted by on Feb 3, 2014 in Kiosk, Tablets

I simply love the creativity of entrepreneurs and would-be business-owners seeking to find ways to fill unmet needs in any market from healthcare to digital dining. The applications for the software we continuously promote are almost as innumerable as the ideas that power them. However, lately I’m seeing a growing trend among those that think in terms of a self-service kiosk mentality where they assume a kiosk is the best fit for their venue. self service kiosk

A recent request should paint a good picture. We had a potential client, a medical specialist, who wished to place self-service kiosk stations across a network of healthcare specialty locations using either a traditional touchscreen or PC-powered kiosk or the modern-day equivalent of a tablet. The request was fairly involved and included integration with everything from insurance companies down to the user itself. The real kicker that made me question their sanity was the annual recurring fee they were intent on charging the patient for on-site access to their vast database of customer information. The fairly visceral reaction to this request spawned a few questions.

  1. What will motivate a healthcare patient to pay an annual subscription for something they would rarely use?
  2. What can this kiosk do that a mobile or tablet application could not?
  3. What is the value-proposition to the end-user besides information gather (which they quite possibly could do from another website or database)?
  4. If the value-add exists what is the cost/benefit analysis of working with and selling the patient on the idea that they really should use the device?

The underlying issue was not that the idea was necessarily bad. I can’t go into complete detail, but the overall idea was actually quite good. I would compare it to deciding to visit Paris (good idea), but choosing your method of transportation as a row boat (poor implementation).

With technologies like Square, PayPal, GoPago and, the gap between self-service kiosks and credit card payments for any retail establishment has been officially bridged. We’ve already passed that critical inflection point where one technology completely leapfrogs another. I see nothing but slow demise for those who’ve not at least moved to tablets for powering their kiosks. If they got really smart, they would simply create a mobile app that would do all the same things, but which could be in the hands of all current and potential customers very quickly.

There may be some who think I’m off base. However, the winds of change are drifting farther and farther away from traditional self-service kiosks. Could the same thing eventually occur for digital signage? Perhaps, but there is–last time I checked–certainly still a big difference between out-of-home advertising and mobile marketing.


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