Point-of-Sale Decked out with Chrome
By David Dorf on Jul 08, 2009
In 2004 Google left the comforts of search and advertising to try its hand at web-based email. The success of that product was followed by Google Talk, an instant messenger, and Google Docs, a web-based word processor and spreadsheet. In 2008 Google released its Chrome browser, at which point it had matched Microsoft's major products, except one. So today Google announced its upcoming Chrome OS, a Linux-based operating system for PCs.
The initial target is netbooks, and the OS will be very lean, relying mostly on the browser to access applications. Others can decided if its possible to completely abandon Microsoft and rely solely on Google products. My questions is, can this stack work for a point-of-sale?
If you talk to any retail chain of substantial size, they'll tell you that at least one store is offline at any given time -- more likely its a handful. That's just the nature of wide-area-networks today, and while I'm sure it will continue to improve, it will never be perfect. So its paramount that a POS be able to sell while offline, and relying on a browser is risky.
I realize there exists point-of-sale products that do just that: they are web-based and rely on being online. They make use of AJAX and unique peripheral drivers to make it work. If you're in a retail business where you need a connection to activate products, like wireless providers, then that could be a fit. But if you're "scanning and bagging," then some resiliency is necessary.
I suppose Google Gears addresses this concern, but I haven't seen a POS based on Gears yet. If you know of one, let me know. It would be interesting to understand that approach.
So from the retail perspective, I think the forthcoming Google Chrome OS is just another Linux distribution in an already crowded market. Because the Google name is attached means its positioned for success, but not necessarily for cash registers.