Square And PayPal Push The iPad-ification Of America's Small Businesses
Square, PayPal, and Groupon all made news today with the common goal of getting small businesses to junk their cash registers for Internet-connected devices that promise to bring the simple act of settling accounts into the future.Change With Your Coffee
I work from home, but every morning I wake up, take a shower and go straight to work from my local coffee shop. About half of those days I stop at the neighborhood ATM kiosk to grab some cash. Call it quaint, call it archaic, but my local coffee shop only takes hard currency.
The coffee shop, 1369 in Cambridge's Inman Square , is really the only reason I bother using cash at all. 1369 is a little old school, a little hipster. Cash sales were kind of its “thing.” That’s why I was surprised the other day when I ran into 1369’s owner, Josh Gerber, and he told me that the coffee shop was going digital with the Square Register.
To me, this is disruption personified. No longer are we talking about some abstract concept of how smartphones and tablets could change businesses at the local level. We are seeing it in action on a tangible scale on the street, in our neighborhoods and, yes, at our local coffee shops.
Can't decide? There are apps for that&Mdash; After the bombings at the Boston Marathon, Denise Brown wasn’t sure if she felt safe letting her 17-year-old son go on a school field trip to Washington, D.C., in May. So she turned to a new app called Polar for help.
“Would you be nervous sending your child to Washington D.C. landmarks?” Brown asked via her iPad.
After one week, she had her answer: 31 people voted “Yes, after Boston bombing,” while 122 chose “No, security tightened.”
“I’m a worrier by nature, so just the fact that more people felt that it would be safe and wouldn’t be worried gave me the peace of mind,” said Brown, a homemaker and mother of four from Virginia.
Polar is just one of a new wave of decision-making applications that were designed to help people reach conclusions quickly by enabling them to get instant feedback from hundreds of friends and strangers. They were initially designed as shopping aids, but creative users have turned them into instant polls and mini chat rooms about popular topics such as current events. And businesses are beginning to harness them to collect input from consumers.