LAS VEGAS, Jan. 11, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Axeda Corporation announced today that ecoATM, a manufacturer of innovative kiosks that automate the buy-back of used portable electronics and mobile phones directly from consumers, chose Axeda to connect and remotely manage its machines.
Axeda is the leading provider of cloud-based software for managing connected products and implementing innovative machine-to-machine (M2M) applications.
ecoATM kiosks provide a convenient trade-in solution that electronically and visually inspects a consumer electronics device, pays consumers immediately in cash or store credit, and automatically administers trade-in/trade-up promotions for retailers and manufacturers. Their kiosks are in locations throughout California with a nationwide rollout planned in 2012.
"I've designed and developed self-service kiosk technology for numerous companies over the past 20 years and have always looked for buy vs. build opportunities on aspects that weren't part of the core technology," said John Beane, vice president, engineering at ecoATM. "My opinion is that I'd rather buy and integrate someone else's technology, basically because I am able to benefit from having features out of the box that we may not be able to develop ourselves for months or even years."
"When scaling a kiosk product from tens to hundreds and thousands of sites, the greatest operational challenge is how to monitor the systems, remotely service them, and both manage and deploy software releases. When evaluating Axeda, the buy decision was an easy one," said Beane "Axeda has been working on this product for years. They have far more software and quality engineers working on this than I could afford for this function. So, out of the gate, we have a sophisticated system for remotely monitoring and servicing our kiosks. Even more important to me than that is the flexibility and ease that Axeda provides for managing and deploying software to our kiosks. The return on investment is almost immediate."
Serving more than 150 of the world's leading product manufacturers, Axeda's connected product management applications provide advanced capabilities to manage connected intelligent assets. Axeda's application and data integration platform enables companies to M2Mize (use M2M data to optimize) their business processes including billing, configuration management, and consumable management or build new innovative applications for their customers.
"Over the years, we have helped many companies maximize the uptime and operational performance of their products by providing the ability to connect and securely manage them remotely," said Bill Zujewski, executive vice president of product strategy and marketing, Axeda. "We enjoy working with pioneering companies like ecoATM and congratulate them for again being named a CES Innovations Design and Engineering Awards honoree."
ecoATM has been the recipient of numerous awards. A partial list includes: Popular Science's 2010 Best of What's New Award in Green Technology; Coinstar's Next Big Idea Contest; CONNECT's Most Innovative Product Award 2009 - Clean Tech category; GigaOm Earth2Tech's Green:Net 2010 Launchpad competition; IEEE Spectrum: Green Goddess Award for DEMO Spring 2011; and recognition by the United Nation's Low Carbon Leadership program as one of the leading ideas in the world for global reduction of co2 emissions.
More Information ecoATM's award-winning kiosk will be on display in the Grand Lobby of the Las Vegas Convention Center (just inside the front doors between Central Hall and North Hall) during the 2012 International CES, January 10-13.
Based in San Diego, Calif., ecoATM ( www.ecoatm.com ) is the first company to create an automated self-serve kiosk system that uses patented, advanced machine vision, electronic diagnostics, and artificial intelligence to evaluate and buy back used electronics directly from consumers for cash or store credit. ecoATM's eCycling stations provide a convenient trade-in solution that:
electronically and/or visually inspect virtually any consumer electronic device;
connects consumers real-time to broad worldwide secondary markets ensuring best pricing;
pays consumers immediately in cash and/or store credit; and,
automatically administers trade-in / trade-up promotions for retailers and manufacturers.
ecoATM holds both Responsible Recycling (R2) and ISO14011 certification, confirming the company's commitment to maintaining the highest standards of electronics recycling.
About Axeda Axeda provides the most advanced cloud-based software for managing connected products and implementing innovative M2M application -- taking the cost and complexity out of connecting and remotely servicing the products of the world's leading companies. Axeda customers use its M2M cloud service to deliver innovative M2M solutions and optimize their business processes with data from their connected products.
By relying on the Axeda® Platform to power their connected products, companies are transforming their business by improving customer satisfaction, reducing costs, and generating new sources of revenue. The M2M solutions behind these connected products range from remote service, fleet management, usage-based insurance, asset tracking, mHealth, and more. Join our developer community at: http://developer.axeda.com and learn more at www.axeda.com .
Erin Smith Anita Giani
Axeda Corporation ecoATM
SOURCE Axeda Corporation
Boulder County Business Report talks to Tom Weaver new CEO of KIOSK as Rick Malone steps down.
January 13, 2012 --
LOUISVILLE - Kiosk Information Systems Inc., a Louisville-based designer and manufacturer of self-services kiosks, has named Tom Weaver its new chief executive.
Weaver replaces Rick Malone, Kiosks' founder and CEO for more than 18 years, the company announced Thursday.
Weaver has been with Kiosk for more than nine years and was its chief marketing officer and also responsible for overseeing sales.
Kiosk is an original equipment manufacturer for Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Fujitsu branded kiosks. It also builds kiosks for the B-Cycle bike-sharing program in Boulder and Denver and for AT&T and Verizon retail stores, Weaver said. Kiosk employs about 120 people and is rated the top kiosk manufacturing company in North America by independent analysts, Weaver said.
Weaver said his goal for the company is to guide it from an engineering and hardware company into a provider of a full spectrum of solutions for the self-service market and the "next generation of vending." That includes enhanced bill-pay and order entry systems and being able to incorporate mobile device technology. Weaver views the latter technology as complementary to Kiosk's existing business strategy.
Malone will remain on the company's board of directors and remain highly involved in overseeing product development, Weaver said.
Opinion piece by David H. Deans on self-serve interactive. Entertainment and retail flagged as big growth areas.
Companies in various industries seek to reduce their operational costs, increase revenue opportunities and improve customer service by deploying interactive kiosks to assist their customers.
They typically use this market development strategy as an additional communications channel -- to enable their customers with convenient self-service options that don't require employee involvement.
Demand for new kiosks will increase at a steady pace. The number of interactive kiosks in operation will rise from approximately 1.6 million deployed in 2011 to nearly three million deployed globally by 2016.
"The self-service technology trend has been occurring for several years, with consumers increasingly seeking greater convenience in the channels that they choose to utilize," says Sam Lucero, practice director, M2M connectivity at ABI Research.
At the center of this self-service trend are interactive devices that are located in public places. Kiosks are not a new channel. In fact, consumers worldwide already use them for self-checkout in the supermarket or to checking-in for their flight at an airport.
According to the latest market study by ABI Research, interactive kiosks are now having a growing impact on the following seven market segments:
Entertainment (e.g. DVD rental, photo printing, movie ticket ordering)
Retail (e.g. self-checkout, deli-counter ordering, product information)
Travel (e.g. airport check-in, hotel check-in/check-out)
Financial services (e.g. bill payment, coin exchange, check cashing)
Healthcare (e.g. patient check-in, patient information, prescription refills)
Municipal & government (e.g. train/bus ticketing, driver’s license renewal, tax payment)
Information/other (e.g. wayfinding, information, human resources)
While the interactive kiosk market is expected to continue growing over the next five years, there remain some roadblocks to address -- in order to sustain the ongoing market development of the category.
"Interactive kiosks in various segments, such as healthcare, can face challenges regarding consumer acceptance, channel conflict with other means of interacting with the consumer, and with automated customer service not meeting a desired level of personalized support," says Lucero.
DENVER, Dec 13, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Forbes magazine has named Four Winds Interactive (FWi) one of "America's Most Promising Companies." The digital communications solutions provider ranks amid the top 20 honorees on the magazine's annual list of high-performing organizations, coming in 16th among 100 privately held companies.
"We are thrilled to have been named in the top 20 of 'America's Most Promising Companies'. We are among some impressive organizations," said David Levin, President and CEO, Four Winds Interactive. "Our team strives to take display technology to the next level, from basic digital signage to digital communications management. Receiving recognition from a prestigious publication like Forbes is a testament to our company's dedication to continuous innovation and excellence in the marketplace."
Forbes' list of "America's Most Promising Companies" features 100 privately held up-and-comers with compelling business models, strong management teams, notable customers, strategic partners and precious investment capital.
"Sizing up younger, privately held companies is hard; Their fortunes can change very quickly and there's a dearth of public data," says Forbes Executive Editor Brett Nelson. "We took a more comprehensive approach to evaluate their health and potential."
To sharpen its search, Forbes teamed up with CB Insights, a Manhattan-based data firm that tracks investment in high-growth private companies. With $650,000 in grants from the National Science Foundation, CB has developed complex software called Mosaic that mines myriad online sources (from press releases and social networks to job boards and court filings) to come up with one, algorithmically derived score that measures a private company's health. Forbes married Mosaic's data-crunching with old-fashioned reporting to assemble a list of rising stars with bright growth prospects. To view the complete the list, please visit www.forbes.com/ampc .
About Four Winds Interactive
The Four Winds Interactive digital communications solution is the ideal solution for any organization's visual communication needs. Digital signage communicates with your audience through applications like wayfinding, event details, employee communications, metrics reporting, building directories, menu boards, emergency messaging, travel information and advertising. For more information, visit www.fourwindsinteractive.com .
SOURCE: Four Winds Interactive
Four Winds Interactive
Erin Doherty, Director of Marketing
Copyright Business Wire 2011
DALLAS -- Dave & Buster's said it has filed a statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering of its common stock.
According to news reports, the company hopes to raise $150 million with the planned offering. Oak Hill Capital Partners, the owner of the entertainment and restaurant chain, and other investors are expected to retain a majority of the company.
Dave & Buster's said the offering is expected to be made through an underwriting group led by Goldman Sachs & Co., Jefferies & Co. Inc. and Piper Jaffray & Co. It intends to use net proceeds from the offering to repay a portion of its outstanding debt.
The move continues D&B's long tradition of repeatedly cycling back and forth from publicly held to privately held status. The previous round of this cycle occurred in 2006 when Wellspring Capital & HBK Main Street Investors took the chain private. Four years later Oak Hill bought D&B's for $570 million.
Separately, D&B's opened its 25th store in Orlando, Florida on July 18. Founded in 1982, the company has sites in 24 states and in Canada.
Global Axcess Corp.’s top executive, CEO George McQuain, has resigned from the company, according to a public filing.
A news release about the company’s fourth quarter results states that McQuain’s departure was a mutual decision by him and the board of directors.
The board appointed Lock Ireland, vice chairman of the board, and Michael Connolly, a director of the company, as co-interim CEOs while a search is conducted for a new CEO. Both men will receive $12,000 in salary per month during their service.
Global Axcess Corp. (OTC Bulletin Board: GAXC), based in Jacksonville, is an independent provider of self-service kiosks, including automatic teller machines and DVD rentals.
News of McQuain’s resignation came on the heels of the company’s fourth quarter results, which include a net operating loss of 5 cents to 6 cents per share, due in large part to losses related to the company’s DVD business.
Before its slowdown, the company had been experiencing a profitable turnaround.
“Despite the best efforts of management, the board has not been satisfied with the financial performance, particularly for the last three quarters,” Connolly said. “This dissatisfaction continued as we reviewed the preliminary results for the fourth quarter.”
To reverse the trend, the board announced it has implemented “a variety of strategic initiatives specifically designed to reduce expenses, increase the profitability of our ATM business and accelerate the revenue from the DVD kiosk business.”
Those initiatives included increasing ATM surcharges at select ATMs, negotiating lower vendor contracts and removing unprofitable DVD kiosks.
Read more: Global Axcess CEO out after 4Q loss | Jacksonville Business Journal
Southern California churches get scammed. The kiosks displayed advertisements -- from which churches were promised a cut of revenue -- along with announcements of church activities and public service messages. Churches were promised that advertisers would make lease payments and that the congregations had no financial obligation, the suit says.
10:00 PM PST on Monday, February 28, 2011
By DAVID OLSON
The state attorney general's office filed a lawsuit Monday seeking more than $800,000 in restitution and fines in an alleged computer-kiosk scam that targeted predominantly African-American churches, including nine in the Inland area.
The suit alleges that several companies and individuals tricked the members of 33 Southern California churches, and 195 nationwide, to sign misleading, expensive lease agreements for computer kiosks that they were promised could make money for the congregations. Instead, the suit says, churches were left with tens of thousands of dollars in lease payments and, in many cases, shoddy computer equipment that didn't work.
The kiosks displayed advertisements -- from which churches were promised a cut of revenue -- along with announcements of church activities and public service messages. Churches were promised that advertisers would make lease payments and that the congregations had no financial obligation, the suit says.
The suit seeks restitution and fines from the defendants, who include Wayne and Tanya Wilson, a Rancho Cucamonga couple who were the California representatives of the two now-defunct Maryland companies that ran the alleged scheme. The Wilsons could not be reached for comment.
Two leaders of the companies, Television Broadcasting Online and Urban Interfaith Network, were sentenced in December to up to 20 years in prison in Michigan for defrauding churches there, according to the Michigan attorney general's office.
The Wilsons had ties to several black churches in Southern California and leveraged their trust to gain the confidence of the congregations, said Richard Nevins, a trustee of one of the alleged victims, New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in San Bernardino.
"It was a sad scam that was run by church people who took advantage of historical, personal and religious ties to run a modern-day Ponzi scheme," he said. "That's why this virus spread."
New Hope lost thousands of dollars on the two kiosks it leased for nearly $100,000 over two years, Nevins said.
Two leasing companies -- one of which was named in the lawsuit -- sued New Hope to collect the lease payments that were not made. The church reached a confidential settlement with the companies, Nevins said.
Churches in Riverside, Temecula, Moreno Valley and Perris also were victims of the scam, according to the attorney general's office.
The Wilsons claimed the kiosks would be free, but according to the lawsuit, "dense legalese in small font" in the lease said the contract could never be canceled and if churches were late with a single payment, leasing companies could demand two years of payments immediately, with interest.
Reach David Olson at 951-368-9462 or dolson@PE.com
Digiboo has "selected" PFU Fujitsu to provide it's kiosks. Movie download kiosks over high speed USB 3.0 are yet to be tested in marketplace.
PFU Systems, a Fujitsu Group Company, to Be Exclusive Worldwide Supplier for Digiboo Movie Download Kiosks
PFU Invests in Digiboo, Strategic Partnership to Grow Service Internationally
SAN JOSE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--PFU Systems, Inc., the North American subsidiary of PFU Limited, a Fujitsu company, today announced that it has been named the exclusive supplier of kiosks worldwide for Digiboo, LLC. Digiboo’s service allows consumers to rent full DVD-quality movies by simply plugging in a small, portable USB 3.0 flash drive, or other faster generation memory device, into kiosks at high traffic locations such as airports and major retailers. PFU’s kiosk division has been designing, developing and manufacturing a custom solution to be deployed across an estimated 7,000 locations over the next three years. PFU has also made a strategic cash investment in Digiboo, partnering with the company as it continues to grow internationally.
“We chose PFU for their kiosk capabilities because they are proven experts, understood our needs and provided custom solutions that will be perfect for our customers worldwide.”
Founded in 2008 by MGM Studios home entertainment veterans Richard Cohen, Jeff Karbowiak and Blake Thomas, Digiboo offers more than 1000 movies to be simply purchased or rented via a PFU-designed kiosk. Consumers can choose their movie and download most standard definition movies in less than 30 seconds to any USB 3.0 flash drive or other faster generation memory device, which can then be watched on any PC, TV, Laptop or Netbook.
“The Digiboo movie service is the fastest, easiest movie purchase and rental option available to customers today. To ensure delivery of a quick and consumer friendly experience, we turned to PFU for help with one of the most important elements of our business, the kiosk – the ultimate interface with customers,” said Richard Cohen, CEO of Digiboo. “We chose PFU for their kiosk capabilities because they are proven experts, understood our needs and provided custom solutions that will be perfect for our customers worldwide.”
The compact and easy-to-use PFU kiosks customized for Digiboo will be deployed in early 2011, beginning with key airport locations across the country.
PFU’s Kiosk Solutions
PFU offers a full range of interactive kiosks and a unique Kiosk Integration Platform which provides enterprises and developers a simple approach to deployment that accelerates time-to-market and reduces costs over the entire kiosk lifecycle. PFU has been in the industry for 17 years and is the #1 kiosk supplier in Japan, and the company has delivered over 60,000 kiosks worldwide in the last five years.
PFU’s kiosks are high quality and extremely reliable, resulting in lower support costs, lower operations costs, increased availability and higher ROI. The company’s comprehensive platform leverages its in-house expertise to ensure all aspects of kiosk projects – application development, hardware integration, deployment and on-going maintenance and support – are tightly integrated and secure.
PFU’s kiosks also offer a unique remote management system giving customers the only solution which can report accurate and detailed status information of the kiosk and each I/O device; automatically and instantly diagnose problems and offer instructions; and proactively provide notice for scheduling maintenance.
Built on Japanese developed technology, PFU kiosks boast product life spans among the best in the market, and have been the choice of leading companies in the healthcare, retail, higher education, government and hospitality/travel industries.
PFU Systems’ ProDeS™ customization services are available to provide any customer with turnkey, end-to-end product design and manufacturing services. The company offers design consultation, hardware design, BIOS and firmware customization, enclosure design, manufacturing, assembly, and quality assurance. For more information on PFU and its kiosk solutions, please visit: http://www.pfusystems.com/kiosk/overview/.
Based in Santa Monica, California, Digiboo is expanding consumer access to fast, higher quality digital downloading through its digital movie kiosks to be located in airports and other high traffic public spaces. Consumers will be able to purchase or rent more than 1,000 movie titles via download in less than 30 seconds to any USB 3.0 flash drive or other faster generation memory device, for viewing on a variety of devices including PCs, TVs, Laptops and Netbooks. The Company, founded by MGM Studios home entertainment executives Richard Cohen, Jeff Karbowiak, and Blake Thomas, offers consumers new levels of convenience and portability for viewing films, television and other content.
About PFU Systems
PFU Systems Inc. (PFU) is a leading customer centric technology solutions company – empowering its clients to achieve greater success through superior quality hardware, innovative software and reliable customer service. PFU makes the customer its first priority, helping to develop customized solutions based on its superior quality, and reliable embedded systems, kiosk and network security products and services.
PFU, the U.S. operation of PFU Ltd., is headquartered in the Silicon Valley and markets and sells PFU’s products in North America.
About PFU Limited
PFU Limited, a subsidiary of Fujitsu Limited, is a $1.2 billion global enterprise that designs, develops, manufactures, sells and maintains computer hardware, imaging scanners, peripheral products, enterprise software, systems and network security solutions. Based on its over 50 years of IT experience in Japan and proven, high quality products, PFU Ltd. is recognized as a leading technology company. For more information, visit http://www.pfu.fujitsu.com/en/.
Fusion PR for PFU Systems
(310) 481-1431, Ext. 14
PFU Systems Contact:
Craig Parsons for Digiboo LLC
Interesting interview with Food Lion founder Ralph Ketner. Quopte - "I don't need to know what color shirt they were wearing or how much cereal and what brand they bought. All I want to know is they bought it at Food Lion. I'm narrow-minded that way."
By Ely Portillo
Posted: Sunday, Dec. 05, 2010
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Food Lion founder Ralph Ketner, now 90 and retired, speaks to business students at Queens. T. Ortega Gaines - email@example.com
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When Ralph Ketner decided to slash prices at his struggling Salisbury grocery chain in 1967, he was gambling that higher sales volume would cancel out razor-thin profit margins, allowing the chain to grow.
His Food Lion strategy worked. Ketner, now 90, retired from the chain he founded in 1992, about a decade after the company was acquired by Belgian grocer Delhaize Group. The chain had opened more than 1,000 locations.
Since then, however, Food Lion's growth has slowed and the company has faced slipping market share and increased pressure from the economy and competitors such as Wal-Mart Supercenters. Food Lion, which now operates about 1,100 stores across the Southeast, has gone back to basics, bidding for shoppers with a heavily promoted lower pricing initiative.
He spoke with the Observer last week at Queens University of Charlotte before giving a talk to students at the McColl School of Business. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Q: How do you think that a supermarket like Food Lion can compete with big-box supercenters like Wal-Mart and Target?
It's extremely hard, because if you don't have the volume, then you've got to add extra. Convenience is still awful hard to beat. The big-box store is one to a town or something like that, so people will factor in the time and the mileage, gasoline and so forth.
Q: Grocery stores now collect a lot of information from consumers with things like loyalty cards and Food Lion's own pilot program of filming shoppers in some stores. Do you think this is good for shoppers?
Maybe, if they don't have the (proper) price. If I were still running Food Lion and still had the lowest prices, then no, I wouldn't want it. There's a cost to getting that information. If you're catering to the person primarily because you're gonna take care of them and give them groceries at the lowest price possible, they're coming back next week.
I don't need to know what color shirt they were wearing or how much cereal and what brand they bought. All I want to know is they bought it at Food Lion. I'm narrow-minded that way.
Q: What do you think a grocery store will look like 20 years from now?
Lord, I'm 90 years old, so I don't have to worry about that. Looking back at the last 30 years, it hasn't changed that much. But (grocers) have increased the number of items tremendously. I think that when you try to be everything to everybody, you're going to charge everybody more.
Q: You cut cost and traded on price. Do you think price is still the No. 1 concern for consumers when deciding where to shop?
I would ask people questions like, "Where does price enter?" Well, people will never admit that, because it indicates they're a cheapskate.
There are people who are willing to pay for the organic items and better selections and so forth, but I would rather cater to 80 percent of the people than I would to the 20 percent who want certain things. I'd say, "Go somewhere else and buy it."
Q: Has the company acted the way you hoped since you left?
After I left in 1992, we had 1,017 stores. Our goal at that time was 2,000 at 2000. We planned to open 900 stores in the next eight years. We'd opened 318 in the last three years I was with the company, so it was not an unreachable goal.
But after I left - it's a funny thing. They didn't think we should sell stuff below cost. One-sixth of everything I sold was sold for less than we paid for it in carload lots. If we bought $10 million worth of Gerber baby food, we sold it one jar at a time for $8.5 million, 15 percent below cost. You can't take percentages to the bank, you take dollars to the bank.
Q: Is there anything you've learned in retirement that you wish you'd known while you were running Food Lion?
I wish I'd known I was going to live this long. I turned 90 a couple months ago, and probably I wouldn't have retired so early.
Q: What was a difficult price-cutting goal you had, and how did you reach it?
What's the one thing everyone buys if they go shopping? Sales tax. I cut sales tax from 4percent to 3 percent. Now, obviously I had to pay it (the difference). That cost $5.2 million off the bottom line just like that, but I figured that I could increase sales enough to offset it.
Well, it turned out that the law in North Carolina says you can do it, but you can't tell anyone. I put signs up that said, "The Attorney General says we can charge you 3 percent, but we can't tell you that's what we're doing," and we kept doing it.
Q: Is it difficult for you in retirement to watch the company being run by others?
When ABC had the exposé show (showing Food Lion employees purportedly selling out-of-date meats), I woke up about 4 in the morning thinking, "If I ran Food Lion, what would I do?" The answer is, "You don't run Food Lion any more."
Read more: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2010/12/05/1886493/food-lion-founder-recalls-thinking.html#ixzz17RnE5lkQ
Fifth Third Processing Solutions and Bling Nation announced this week they had signed an agreement in which Fifth Third will promote to its more than 3,000 bank clients Bling Nation’s mobile-payments service. Cell phone owners attach a BlingTag, which is a quarter-sized microchip, to the back of their cell phones.
Mobile payments company Bling Nation’s agreement with Fifth Third will spark Bling’s expansion beyond its current six-state area, says Wences Casares, founder and co-CEO of Bling Nation.
"This partnership will allow us to reach a large number of financial institutions and help us expand our service to more customers and merchants in more areas," Casares said. Bling Nation currently offers its service in California, Massachusetts, Colorado, Texas, New York and Tennessee. Fifth Third is the nation’s third-largest payments processor based on annual volume.
The BlingTag enables consumers to wave their phones at certain point-of-sale terminals to make a purchase. The mobile phone must have SMS-text messaging capabilities. Banks interested in the service sign a separate agreement with Bling Nation, which is based in Palo Alto, Calif. The financial institutions, however, must route their Bling Nation transactions over Fifth Third’s processing network, says Lynn M. Rhoads, senior vice president and communications director for Fifth Third.
Cincinnati-based Fifth Third signed with Bling Nation because Fifth Third clients were looking for new ways to grow their portfolios, Rhoads says.
Investment in ecoATM by Coinstar. Recycling mobile phones (or smartphones or iphones or ipads) now a growth line for Coinstar.
by Thomas Miner
Coinstar, a U.S. based kiosk operator with brands that include its flagship Coinstar machines as well as the popular "redbox" DVD rental kiosks in supermarkets, has announced an undisclosed investment in ecoATM, a maker of kiosks which pays consumers for recycling their old electronics. EcoATM currently has pilot kiosks in several U.S. markets and, with the additional investment monies, to expand throughout the United States and enter international markets in the next 3 years.
The company's kiosks visually and electronically scan used devices such as mobile phones, ipods and laptops brought by customers for recycling to establish their cash value and pay consumers immediately. ecoATM has partnerships with over 50 companies who collect the ewaste and either resell the products or properly recycle them.
Greg Kaplan, President and CEO of Coinstar, sees ecoATM as an innovative business model that will add substantial value to Coinstar: "We believe ecoATM could be a viable business as it provides an easy way for consumers to properly resell and/or recycle the more than $7 billion in used mobile phones that are annually retired in the U.S. while creating a sustainable secondary market for these devices." The kiosks also help deal with a mounting e-waste problem around the world.
According to the Basel Convention there are approximately 6 billion tons of hazardous e-waste currently improperly dealt with across the globe. Some electronics retailers have been instituting electronics take-back programs, but ecoATM is the first to pay consumers for the end-of-life value of their assets.
Misys to sell healthcare unit stake; analysts talk up break-up value. Clears the way for Allscripts to merge with Eclipsys. source
Craig Martin of Reality Interactive LLC shows off interactive marketing programs on the Microsoft Surface touchscreen computer the company has in its office in Middletown. (Bettina Hansen / The Hartford Courant)
Years ago, companies relied on sales people to tell customers everything about their products, but today, a small Middletown company uses technology to help retailers answer questions.
"You have a classic problem," said Reality Interactive's president, Craig Martin. "You have a brand with a sophisticated product with lots of features. The client does a lot of research. In the middle is the 'dumb channel,' the salesman."
Enter the "point of sale" retail kiosks programmed by Reality — digital merchandising machines that provide instant answers to customer inquiries, resulting, Martin said, in higher numbers at the cash register. Reality writes software for kiosks made by various manufacturers.
"The information is being dispensed at the right place and the right time and that's why they are buying it," said Jim Ligotti, the company's chief operating officer.
One of Reality's prime clients is Lego, which has self-service digital merchandising kiosks in many Toys "R" Us and Kmart stores. Customers can get recommendations for toys based on the child's age, the amount they wish to spend and the child's interests.
Another major client is BMW, which has Reality kiosks that offer detailed information about each car model in addition to sales pitches for car accessories and specifics about service hours. Other blue-chip clients include Bose, Verizon, Sprint, Leap Frog and Mini Cooper.
Business news from Target Stores as they outsource their mobile phone segment. Not unlike their photo and their clinics.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Target taps RadioShack to run cell-phone depts.
Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal - by John Vomhof Jr. Staff writer
Nancy Kuehn | Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal
Cassie Pojanowski stocks Bullseye Mobile Solutions shelves at Target’s downtown Minneapolis store. The department is run by RadioShack’s Kiosk Operations; its employees wear black shirts.
Target Corp. is outsourcing the mobile-phone departments inside its stores to RadioShack Corp.
Kiosk Operations Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Forth Worth, Texas-based RadioShack, took over mobile phone sales at about 100 Target stores in Minnesota, California, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, Texas and Washington earlier this month. The Target kiosks have been branded as Bullseye Mobile Solutions and are run by Kiosk Operations employees who wear black shirts instead of the red shirts typically worn by Target’s staff.
Minneapolis-based Target plans to expand the concept to all of its roughly 1,700 stores in 2010, spokeswoman Jana O’Leary said. “This provides added convenience for our guests. They can do their Target shopping trip, grab some groceries and address any cell phone needs they may have.”
Customers probably won’t notice much of a change. The kiosks sell Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T phones and service plans, as well as various prepaid phones and calling cards; those are the same products and services already offered by Target.
This isn’t the first time Target has contracted with a third party to run a department within its stores. Eden Prairie-based Lifetouch Inc. runs Target’s portrait studios and McHenry, Ill.-based Medcor Inc. operates the retailer’s clinics.
Anthony Chukumba, an analyst for FTN Midwest Securities Corp. in Cleveland, said he doesn’t think the new mobile phone partnership with Kiosk Operations “will move the needle a whole heckuva lot for Target in terms of their overall results,” but it’s still important for Target to enhance its presence in the mobile-phone segment.
“It’s something you have to offer to your customer, and if you don’t have the expertise to do it yourself, it makes sense to outsource it to someone else,” he said. “RadioShack has more experience with wireless and likely will do a much better job selling wireless handsets and calling plans than Target would.”
Although it’s not clear how the business relationship between Target and Kiosk Operations works, Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Morgan Securities in Los Angeles, said Kiosk Operations likely is paying Target to operate in its stores. He speculated that Kiosk Operations might pay Target between $30,000 and $40,000 per year in rent, plus a small cut of its sales, likely less than 10 percent. Pachter estimated that Kiosk Operations generates a profit of roughly $75 for every $300 phone it sells.
“I think Target probably looks at this both as a convenience item for the Target customer and a traffic driver because once you get your phone there you may come back for accessories or whatever, and they want you in the store,” Pachter said.
The mobile-phone market has begun to shift more toward general merchandise and consumer electronics stores instead of stores operated by mobile-phone service providers such as Verizon, Sprint and AT&T, Pachter said. That’s partly because carriers no longer rely on their extensive retail footprints to attract new customers; instead they try to negotiate with manufacturers for the exclusive rights to popular handsets, such as the deal AT&T has with the iPhone.
RadioShack and Richfield-based Best Buy Co. Inc., which added Best Buy Mobile to all of its stores last year, are the retailers that are best positioned to benefit from that shift, but Target and other retailers also could join the fray in the future, Pachter said. “Honestly, I don’t know why Target doesn’t want to do it themselves. One would think that if Best Buy can do it, there’s enough money in it for Target to want to do it themselves, too.”
The deal with Kiosk Operations, however, may be the best way for Target to test the waters in the mobile phone segment without a significant investment, Pachter said, noting that Target could decide to bring those operations in-house after its deal with Kiosk Operations expires. “The more successful it is, the more likely they are to do that.”
Mall Giant Declares Chapter 11, Vendors Ponder Implications. General operates 200 malls in 44 states and is second-largest right behind Simon. Maybe with the advent of social networking over mobile devices like Twitter, the physical hangout of the mall has lost some of it's appeal somehow.
CHICAGO -- News of General Growth Properties Inc.'s bankruptcy filing on April 16 is sending shockwaves through the bulk-vending channel, where malls have increasingly become prime locations over the past decade.
General Growth, which operates some 200 malls in 44 states, is the second-largest U.S. mall owner behind Simon Property Group. It is unlikely to face liquidation, and its malls will continue to operate. The company said it intends to work with its constituencies to emerge from bankruptcy as quickly as possible while executing a reorganization plan that preserves its national business.
The mall owner's decision to reorganize follows a prolonged effort to refinance and extend maturing debt. The company reports that it has already made efforts to extend mortgage maturities, and reduce corporate debt and overall leverage.
"Our core business remains sound and is performing well with stable cashflows," said General Growth chief executive Adam Metz. "While we have worked tirelessly in the past several months to address our maturing debts, the collapse of the credit markets has made it impossible for us to refinance maturing debt outside of Chapter 11."
However, the General Growth bankruptcy is being viewed as a harbinger of sustained weakness in the commercial real estate and retail markets, which may lead to further location closings. Analysts estimate that the commercial real estate industry has about $264 billion in debt scheduled to mature this year, and $273 billion in 2010.
KIng Products which went out of business a few months ago has shown up again with Meridian agreeing to purchase their assets.
Scale Finance announced today that its client Meridian Kiosks LLC, a leading manufacturer of kiosks to the North American Market, entered into a definitive agreement to purchase the assets of King Products and Solutions, Inc (KPSI), of Toronto Canada. KPSI is the oldest kiosk manufacturer in the world, providing signage solutions since 1946, including the world’s first kiosk. In more recent times, KPSI was the leading manufacturer of internet and telephony kiosks for airports, wayfinding kiosks for commercial properties, and retail solutions for major retail customers.
Scale Finance Managing Director Gerhard Renner, who operates as Meridian’s CFO and led the transaction, added “although financing for acquisitions is tougher to access, good deals continue to get done. In this case, we developed a very structured approach where we could leverage KPSI’s own cash-flows, and when combined with synergies from scale and scope created a very strong payback scenario."
Chris Gilder, Meridian’s CEO, commented “In today’s economic environment, we’re seeing very good opportunities for consolidating our industry. Most companies are retrenching. Our approach is just the opposite – we see the downturn as an opportunity to gain market share at very reasonable valuations. When we had an opportunity to acquire the crown jewel of our industry, we moved very quickly to make it happen. Acquiring KPSI not only expands Meridian’s product and segment offering, but also adds critical proprietary software solutions applicable to all of Meridian’s existing clients.”
Meridian will continue to operate offices in Toronto for its software division, while centralizing its manufacturing operations to its 65,000 square foot facility in North Carolina. Terms of the transaction remain confidential.
SANTA ANA, Calif., March 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Offering channel partners the industry's broadest and most complete selection of technology solutions, Ingram Micro Inc. (NYSE: IM) is pleased to announce it has expanded its business relationship with IT leader Elo TouchSystems, a business of Tyco Electronics Corporation, to include North America.
Under the terms of the new distribution agreement, the Ingram Micro Data Capture/POS Division will support, market and resell the complete line of Elo TouchSystems touch monitor products including LCD touchmonitors, touchcomputers and custom solutions to channel partners throughout North America. Elo TouchSystems and Ingram Micro have maintained a successful relationship in Europe for the past six years and in Mexico for the past year.
"Touchscreen technology brings to life a high-value business solution that can be sold into many key market verticals including retail, government, education and healthcare," says John Soumbasakis, senior vice president and general manager of Strategic Divisions, Ingram Micro North America. "We're pleased to be Elo's first broadline, value-added distributor and will leverage our vertical expertise to generate demand for Elo's portfolio and enable our solution provider partners to identify, market and sell touchscreen solutions more effectively in today's economy."
"Our expanded distribution alliance with Ingram Micro marks a very significant milestone in Elo's overall channel growth throughout North America," says Mark Mendenhall, vice president Tyco Electronics and general manager, Elo TouchSystems. "We're eager to introduce our innovative touchscreen technology to a broader marketplace that can truly benefit from the improved efficiency, productivity and access touchscreen solutions offer. Ingram Micro brings tremendous scale to our global market outreach and provides us access to a wider variety of channel partners who specialize in vertical markets."
Both DisplaySearch(1) and iSuppli(2) report that the touchscreen market is forecasted for double-digit growth over the next three years. DisplaySearch's May 2008 report forecasts growth between 2008 and 2015 at 12 percent increase in unit sales and a 20 percent increase in revenue. iSuppli's May 2008 report forecasts growth between 2008 and 2012 at 25 percent increase in units and 17 percent when it comes to revenue. Primary market drivers accelerating this growth include reduction of labor costs through customer self-service and the availability of new user interfaces that utilize touch technology.
"Demand for technologies that help businesses reduce costs without compromising service levels is growing worldwide," says Soumbasakis. "In 2009, we expect demand for touch technology to continue despite, and in many cases in light of, the economic climate we're all facing which is good news for all of us who play in this space."
About the Ingram Micro Data Capture/POS Division
The Ingram Micro Data Capture/POS Division is a leading value-added distributor of auto ID/data capture (AIDC), point-of-sale (POS), radio frequency identification (RFID) and wireless solution products and services. In addition to these technologies, the division also offers partners access to the complete suite of Ingram Micro products and services. With offices and distribution centers across North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia, the Ingram Micro Data Capture/POS Division delivers a comprehensive portfolio of products and services to technology integrators around the world. For more information, visit dcpos.ingrammicro.com.
About TYCO ELECTRONICS
Tyco Electronics Ltd. is a leading global provider of engineered electronic components, network solutions, undersea telecommunication systems and wireless systems, with 2008 sales of $14.8 billion to customers in more than 150 countries. We design, manufacture and market products for customers in industries from automotive, appliance and aerospace and defense to telecommunications, computers and consumer electronics. With nearly 8,000 engineers and worldwide manufacturing, sales and customer service capabilities, Tyco Electronics' commitment is our customers' advantage. More information on Tyco Electronics can be found at http://www.tycoelectronics.com/.
About Elo TouchSystems
Elo TouchSystems, the global leader in touch technology, develops, manufactures and markets a complete line of touch screen and touch monitor products. Elo offers the largest selection of touchscreen technologies and LCD touch monitors and carefully designs each product for the demanding requirements of diverse applications, such as industrial, medical, POS, kiosks, retail, hospitality, transportation, office automation, and gaming.
IRVING, TX — Dave & Buster's Inc., offered for sale last February at a reported $600 million asking price by owner Wellspring Capital Management, may have six companies making bids in an ongoing auction process, according to Nation's Restaurant News. Additionally, TheDeal.com said the bidding has reached the second round. Whether speculation or solid inside information, the story surfaced in outlets including the New York Times.
Reportedly, possible buyers include MidOcean Partners, owner of the Sbarro fast-food chain; Bain Capital Partners, a major shareholder in Dunkin' Donuts, Burger King and Outback Steakhouse; British consumer firm Lion Capital; and Bear Stearns Merchant Banking. Another deep-pocketed investor, Sun Capital, is said to have decided against bidding on the grounds that the opening threshold is too high.
D&B's was a publicly traded company until 2006, when Wellspring purchased it for $375 million, taking the company private. Wellspring hired New York investment bank Jefferies & Co. to shop D&B's around last year, but then decided on the auction route.
According to a report on businesswire.com, GE Capital, a unit of General Electric Co., is believed to have stepped in with a financing underwriting offer for any qualified buyer, but on more conservative terms than Jeffries had contemplated.
Meanwhile, D&B's said its 2007 fourth quarter results, for the period ended February 3, 2008, showed revenue increased 1% to $145.4 million from $143.9 million the same quarter of 2006. Same-store sales increased 4% over the comparable 13-week period in 2006.
Highlights for the 52-week fiscal 2007 compared with the 53-week fiscal 2006 were also encouraging. Annual revenue increased to $536.3 million from $510.2 million, or 5.1%. Same-store sales increased 4.1% compared with 2006.
CEO Steve King said customer-pleasing value packages and strong cable TV advertising helped drive traffic to D&B's.