The iPad 2 may be on backorder for consumers, but Apple doesn’t seem to have any shortage of them when it comes to its own uses. On Sunday, the company started using the popular tablet to replace paper signs at its retail stores.
At a visit to its Palo Alto store (just about a mile from the home of CEO Steve Jobs), visitors could interact with nearly 60 iPads placed next to most products on display. The iPads were inside a plastic case that’s attached to the table, making it impossible to pick up or walk away with. And the device’s home button was disabled, so visitors couldn’t get to the home screen or run any software on the iPads other than the point of sale display dedicated to the product sitting right next to it.
The iPads have detailed information about the product next to it which varies depending on what it is.
One option on the device allows you to page a sales person.
Apple hasn’t talked about other retail uses of its iPads but it’s not hard to image this becoming a product line for them. It’s easy to imagine how other retailers could use tablets to describe, promote and enhance products ranging from tennis shoes to turnips. I could see how a clothing retailer could use it to help customers not only learn more about the garment (such as care instructions) but also see if their size or favorite color is in stock or available at another location or via the web. A grocery store could use this technology to provide nutrition information and recipes. And some day, I could easily imagine a waiter handing you an iPad 2 instead of a menu which would not only display your options, but send the order directly to the kitchen and tally up your bill.