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Rocky Mountain Multimedia, Inc.
COMPUTER RESELLER NEWS : New York - In an effort to seed its content beyond the desktop, America Online Inc. signed an agreement with Radiant Systems Inc. to integrate information applications with point-of-sale devices.
The joint venture between Radiant and AOL will enhance the value of Radiant's POS devices and kiosks and result in the development of new products that deliver content to users.
Radiant focuses its POS business on the cinema-entertainment, fast food and gas station-convenience store markets, counting National Amusements Inc. and BP Amoco among its customers.
"This alliance is in keeping with the 'AOL Anywhere' strategy," said Mark Schoen, director of marketing at Atlanta-based Radiant. "The company wants to get into people's lives in places other than the desktop at work or home. . . . They want to get AOL into retail environments."
The appeal of the partnership lies in the strengths of its players, said Schoen, citing AOL as an expert in understanding its consumers and content. At the same time, Radiant comes to the table with a large installed base, expertise in integrating consumer-interactive apps with systems, and experience building intelligent, ruggedized POS devices, he said.
One product that may result from the alliance is an intelligent gas pump with a touch screen, where customers could place convenience-store orders, check traffic and weather conditions, and print coupons, all while tanking up their vehicles.
One of Radiant's gas station customers already uses interactive POS kiosks, although not as extensively and only in Switzerland at present.
"We redesigned the fuel pump to include a Windows CE-based system with a 12-inch touch screen for ordering convenience-store merchandise and services, " said Jon Edmondson, a member of the marketing futures group at Shell Retail International, London. "The terminal generates a receipt, and then the customer walks over to a fulfillment window about 15 feet away to pick up the order."
Edmondson said he anticipates that the agreement between Radiant and AOL will result in the enhanced functionality of these kiosks, rendering them information stations as well, where customers can check the weather or read news briefs.
In the cinema-entertainment market, the integration of AOL's Moviefone-a movie listing guide and ticket service-with Radiant's box-office POS devices appears likely, said a spokeswoman at AOL, Dulles, Va.
Radiant deploys complete solutions for its customers, building terminals and kiosks with Intel Corp. processors and plastic enclosures.
"What we're really making are Net PCs. We also provide the operating system-usually Windows CE-and develop the applications on top of the hardware, " said Schoen.
Radiant also is in the process of recruiting VARs-partners that would resell Radiant's boxes, deploy software apps and implement solutions, said Schoen. The integrator is focusing its attention on well-known, regional channel players and plans to team up with about a half-dozen altogether.
AOL's selection of the POS kiosk market as a means of strengthening its brand name appears to be a smart move, said analysts at Probe Research Inc., Cedar Knolls, N.J. They project the installed base of kiosks will have experienced a compounded annual growth rate of about 50 percent between 1998 and 2003.
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