A comment to my last blog challenged whether iPads were a viable substitute for traditional interactive kiosks and further questioned the definition of a "mobile kiosk." I wanted to take a moment to tease these out a bit.
For this blog, a "mobile kiosk" refers to an iPad or other similar mobile device that has been programmed to have the functionality a public, interactive digital kiosk. Let’s say for instance that a retail store wanted to have its catalog on a digital display in the front of a store. Instead of anchoring the catalog at one location, the retailer could install it on a tablet for employees to carry for customer service. Some hotels have staff carry iPads as a concierge tool. They can be used as a means to gather survey data. Many other applications can be imagined.
But do these applications make the device a "mobile kiosk"?
From a marketing perspective, I know there are many kiosk companies, mine included, that have difficulty defining the word "kiosk" for potential clients. With the advent of cheap and affordable digital signage, kiosks have come to mean everything from food carts and mall kiosks to digital displays. Most potential clients do not have a firm grasp on the wide variety of kiosk options available to them and have a tendency to vastly underestimate cost when looking for kiosk solutions. Something like a tablet kiosk could further segment the market.
That’s not to say I don’t love the idea of tablets displaying kiosk-type information. I think such an application would be great in a retail setting, where an employee could quickly use an iPad to help a shopper browse a mobile catalog or collect more private and sensitive data. Inputting customer information on a small form-factor tablet is much more user-friendly than on a large screen that everyone can see.
As digital signage becomes more mature, I actually think the idea of a "mobile kiosk" could be a good complimentary product to full-sized digital kiosks. Stores that utilize large-screen digital signage to show off new products and trends could have tablet-sized counterparts that let people enter private information or take part in personalized promotions.
Since 2004, Ionescu has built a proprietary software/hardware package for state tourism and hotels. Ionescu believes successful kiosk networks are built upon ongoing collaboration between the client and provider to develop flexible systems that clients and users are happy with for years.