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Notes from the Field

Retail Systems Chicago June 2001

by Craig Keefner : 06/27/01

Always nice to visit Chicago. As usual I stayed here at the Hyatt at McCormick. The show began yesterday and is a walk thru the main conference area where the NECC is going on (educators). They have all of the right side and there are some pretty massive booths from all the bigboys in there. Farther down across the bridge is Retail Systems and it has a very large area again with all of the bigboys concentrated in the first half and then all of the rest in the other half.

Mike Jackman of KIOSKmarketplace is also here and attended the big Keynote by Gerald Storch of Target.

Members I have "run into" include; Factura kiosks in Lexmark, InfoTouch and Compaq are in Microsoft, a large IBM booth with 20 or so NetVista's and more, Netkey and Penny Crump are in the IBM booth with their latest grocery application running on a NetVista, the Compaq XPOS booth, NCR has the 7401 in full display and several models of its new self-checkout units. The "convertible" is really cool as it changes from customer activated to storeclerk mode in less than a minute. Apunix is in the Sun booth, Hand Held Products is here as is Connect Tech and Brown Innovations. Westrex has a nice booth and the Symbol booth is a smorgasboard of handheld wireless.

I spent some time over in the large Intel booth. They are very much targeting POS and Retail. Wincor Nixdorf has large booth as do the folks at Radiant (I love their terminals).

I ran in Michael Kachmar of Edgell and their retail publications including Kiosk Business. They have a large booth here. Gerry Ryerson is here (looks like his cellphone is one busy device).

Today promises to be exciting. Francie of Summit gets here (we have dinner at 7 remember Francie...). Had a nice demo from Billy G. of IBM with their cool new handheld wireless units (Symbol but any can be used). Mike Zweber and Brian Francis of NCR are here. We had good long talks and I was happy to hear Mike is making a visit to Minnesota where he is from originally. Hard to stay away from Minnesota once you have lived there.

I was really impressed with level of engineering that IBM has done with the NetVista's. I kidded the IBM folks asking them how their "7401 Killer" is doing and they of course pooh-poohed that moniker, though I think it is closer to the truth. The IBM folks are very nicely diplomatic complementing the NCR units. Being the troublemaker I also had to ask the NCR folks what they thought of the IBM unit and they were naturally good-natured and complimentary. If there is any one unit that is the template for success, I would have to say the NCR 7401 is it, and it continues to evolve.

I wasn't fully aware of it but I also made note that IBM is re-entering the ATM market. Sometime back they had sold to Diebold their domestic business but now they are back at the table so to speak.

Great show...


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