Old-school vending machines, bulky bastions of high-calorie snacks and sodas, meet your new-school challenger: chic upscale gadgets stocked with consumer electronics and pricey cosmetics. As more of these machines pop up in high-traffic areas such as airports, the old quarter-chuggers may someday find themselves out-vended.
The new vending machines sell iPods, cellphones, USB drives, headphones, DVDs, and a host of other gadgets.
This latest development in the $30 billion-a-year vending industry (a figure that only includes food and beverage sales) is a natural outgrowth of consumer clamor for control and round-the-clock convenience, say industry observers.
Will it be an effective way to market new technology? Professor Michael Kasavana of Michigan State University says so:
“Automated retail is in the midst of an explosion. Self-service applications have become prevalent is all aspects of business, especially where labor costs have become excessive.”
The machines have already been spotted in Las Vegas and Atlanta. See it in action: