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Software Vending Machines 278

anubis__ writes "CNN details a sort-of software vending machine named 'SoftwareToGo' that CompUSA is testing out in their Seattle, WA, Dallas, TX, and San Francisco, CA stores. The upside to this vending machine is that your CD is burned when you request it, so the latest patches available for the software you're buying might already be included with the installation. The downside, like anything requiring some level of technical aptitude in the US, is that the machines are avoided by the masses of shoppers." This has been in the works for a year or so.
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Software Vending Machines

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  • by Liselle ( 684663 ) * <slashdot&liselle,net> on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @03:37PM (#8784351) Journal
    ...but as other people noted in the last thread, you miss out on some of the other other niceties. For one, I hate "online" manuals. You can take your PDFs and stuff 'em. I treasure my spiral-bound manual for Neverwinter Nights.

    Also, about patches: this would be nice for things that need updated patches, like Windows.... except Microsoft won't sell Windows or Office at these kiosks! Erk.
    • by willy134 ( 682318 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @03:41PM (#8784409)
      I remember when the local kinkos copy center had a shareware vending machine. For one dollar you could get a floppy disk with several shareware games on it. It was great when the local bbs didn't have the games and they kept it farely well upgraded.
    • ...but as other people noted in the last thread, you miss out on some of the other other niceties. For one, I hate "online" manuals. You can take your PDFs and stuff 'em. I treasure my spiral-bound manual for Neverwinter Nights.

      You read manuals?
    • I work for a company whose predecessor used to have a scheme for a similar setup. Everyone was enthusiastic about it, but... nobody could ever get the big boys on board. Microsoft, in particular, said nice things... and never got back to us.

      This would have been nice in 1998 or so. Now it's too late to be useful, as standalone computer stores, the principle motivation for having such stuff in the first place, are dying off. One very large national chain estimated that our system would save them 1% of g

    • "I treasure my spiral-bound manual for Neverwinter Nights."

      You don't have a choice: that's where the CD key is kept.
    • " For one, I hate "online" manuals. You can take your PDFs and stuff 'em."

      I hated PDFs until I discovered the 'Find' tool. The ability to download the manual (like if you bought something second hand) is icing.
  • Basic Problems (Score:5, Informative)

    by (54)T-Dub ( 642521 ) * <(tpaine) (at) (> on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @03:38PM (#8784363) Journal
    I thought this would be a great way to buy PC games from distributors known for sloppy work until I red this:
    There are more than 20 titles from Activision, 10 from Edmark, more than a dozen from Microsoft and Symantec but none from Broderbund,
    Electronic Arts, Adobe or Intuit.
    Then I thought, well at least windows will be up to date which would make new installs easier:
    Microsoft, however, is keeping some of its marquee titles -- such as the Windows operating system and Office software suite -- off both the Internet and the SoftwareToGo machines "mostly because of security considerations," Berett said.
    ROFL, i give up.
    • Re:Basic Problems (Score:3, Interesting)

      by stratjakt ( 596332 )
      Well, you can't burn SafeDisc or CDCOPS or whatever other cockamamie anti-copying schemes are on *every* PC game out there.

      I'd pay full price for a cracked copy of the game, with the latest patches. I've had to crack tons of legitimately purchased games to get them to work properly. Or remove annoyances. ie; XIII is 4 CDs and asks you to swap them ALL the time, in between levels, sometimes a couple times at a pop.. All for no good reason, the entire game is on the HDD..

      I see trialware/shareware/open s
    • Re:Basic Problems (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) <akaimbatman@gm a i l .com> on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @03:56PM (#8784673) Homepage Journal
      I think the problem here is that CompUSA thinks people want traditional software from a vending machine. What people actually want is *cheap* software from a vending machine. i.e. I insert a five dollar bill into the machine, and a copy of Mozilla, Linux, iTunes, etc. pops out. I've now saved myself a huge download and burn processes, all for the low cost of a couple of bucks.

      Jack the price up to $50-$200, and people will start expecting more. They'll want shrinkwrapping, manuals, free little dodads that come in the box, and other niceties. No way they're going to be thinking about getting *that* out of a vending machine.

      • I'd love to see an OSS vending machine, though.

        Have it spit out, say, Mozilla, Knoppix, etc. CDs all 100% up to date. Hell, you can add a printer to it and spit out a couple of printouts about your CD if you like, too.

        Assuming someone doesn't patent the whole idea... :/

        All software - $5

        (Mostly because I wouldn't care to risk much more than that much money in a vending machine.)

        Who says there can be no profit in Open Source? :]

        Oh, hrm, you do have to comply with the GPL and put the source on those C
        • All software - $5

          (Mostly because I wouldn't care to risk much more than that much money in a vending machine.)

          Exactly. $5 is low enough to where you figure you can snag it for fun. If you don't like the software, you can throw it out and forget about it. Even if only 1 out of every 5 vending machine purchases work out, you'll still consider yourself ahead of the game.

          Besides, vending machines *have* to work on instinctual buys. If I see the latest XPde Desktop Linux CD in the machine as I'm walking into
      • Actually I've had that idea for a while now..only these need to be in your local "screwdriver" shop. they're not much use for the CompUSAs of the world because they're just wanting to cut their cost of overpriced stuff to begin with.

        On the other hand one of these connected to sourceforge [or other oss sources] could be a real boon for OSS. The trouble with adopting Linux right now is that for "normal" users downloads are huge. You're right about the $5 price point too. You might get away with up to s

        • I think you're missing the point. It has to be an impulse buy. Period, end of story. If you start making really fancy, burns exactly what you never wanted to disk machines, they're going to fail. On the other hand, consider loading one of those snack machines with CDs of FireFox, OpenOffice, Mandrake, TuxRacer, Blender3D, the Gutenburg collection, and several other popular computer titles. Such a machine would generate interest. Now add a touchscreen menu that explains to joe-blow what software is what.

    • Re:Basic Problems (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gnu-generation-one ( 717590 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @04:18PM (#8784944) Homepage
      So why not install the machine in a library, put on OpenOffice, Mozilla, GIMP, GRASS, Knoppix, Blender, and anything else that takes a week to download via modem?

    • Well if I can't get my "Where in the World/Time/Your Mom is Carmen Sandiego?"(r), then I'm not interested.
  • by Thanatopsis ( 29786 ) <despain DOT brian AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @03:38PM (#8784364) Homepage
    The public has in the past shown an aversion to these sorts of machines. Complex vending machines look intimidating, usually are hard to use and the consumer if often afraid of "accidently" buying something or "breaking" the machine.
    • Those complex soda vendimg machines are just too intimidating for me as well. I guess I just have to go to the supermarket, reach in to the cooler, grab a bottle of pepsi, and pay for it at the checkout counter.
      • I know what you mean. Like, those jukeboxes in the 50's were complex machines like this that put a platter into a reader and then gave you music. Who put money into those? Obviously only technically literate people. No wonder they died out.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    How is this somehow better than downloading the software from the Internet? So I can hold a new CD? I can burn that myself. I really don't see the market unless you are stuck on a 56K modem.
    • I am stuck on a 33600K modem, so I guess you forgot about me.

      But this would have been useful for a very small number of Linux geeks five years ago.

    • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @03:52PM (#8784596) Journal
      "I really don't see the market unless you are stuck on a 56K modem"

      ...considering that 80% of the users online are stuck on a 56K modem (usually running at a way slower speed), I'd readily call this a nice-sized market.

      The only real problem is that the one thing that would benefit the most from patching (OSes) will most likely be missing from the selection.

    • by DragonMagic ( 170846 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @03:55PM (#8784662) Homepage
      Typical /. elitism.

      Most people in this country do NOT have broadband. It could also be that they don't want to spend a couple hours downloading a large file, then have to burn it.

      Not only this, but the vending machine offers a way to browse many different companies' titles in one kiosk. You can search for an age-specific software title (as the article illustrates) or get the newest patches with the software all in one.

      This isn't aimed at people like you who download and burn with the greatest of ease. It's made for the people who normally go into a CompUSA to buy sotware, as a way to clear up some shelf space for the lesser titles that hardly get any room, among the bigger titles that clog the shelves. It's a way to search without having to see whether a title's hidden behind another, etc. It's also a way to keep these products in stock, which saves money for the store.

      It's somehow better in many, many ways.
    • You can peel potatos yourself, but somehow McDonalds stays in business.

      How long does it take to download 700MB on a DSL connection, burn a CD and print a label? How much do you value your time?

  • Why not download? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JoScherl ( 228091 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @03:38PM (#8784367) Homepage
    IF I want some burned software I can download it from the net - even after paying for it ;-)
    But if I go to a shop I want a pressed CD - these hold longer.
  • by SkiddyRowe ( 692144 ) <> on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @03:38PM (#8784374)
    You know those little stickers...

    "This machine will not release free product"

    Then a little picture of the machine falling on a stick figure. Maybe it'll be a Penguin?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @03:39PM (#8784378)
    There's just no coin slot to insert your payment.
  • by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @03:39PM (#8784382) Journal
    Not games, or most desktop-targetted apps, because you can't burn their precious anti-copying schemes.

    And if it was going to be higher-end office type stuff, like OS's or DVD authoring, or ANYTHING that costs 19.99 or higher, and people are going to want the box, the official CD, and most of all - THE MANUAL.

    Dead tree manuals are easier to read than some .pdf or README file.
    • Dead tree manuals are easier to read than some .pdf or README file.

      I'm really sick of people saying this - I prefer PDFs or some other form of electronic docs. Don't tell me people are going to want the box and the manual - tell me SOME people are going to want the box and the manual and thus they won't purchase from this machine - it certainly won't stop me or a bunch of others from buying from such a machine (other things might, but not that)
      • So make the manual available to those who want it enough to pay the cost to print it (not insignificant). It could even be handled by the vending machine: insert credit card, punch required buttons, out comes a CD for $xx and a manual for $yy. Since most people (being cheap) will just want the CD, the supply of manuals need not be large.

        Or it could even be done as print on demand, perhaps in conjunction with shops like Kinko's that are already set up to handle one-shot printing from a page-layout program.
  • by djh101010 ( 656795 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @03:40PM (#8784392) Homepage Journal
    Wow. I can't tell you how many times I've said "Gee, I'd really like to buy software from a vending machine at a computer store". I mean, it's so much easier than just pulling it down off the shelf, and there are so few things that could go wrong with this.

    OK, sarcasm aside, if I'm going to buy software from a store, I want the box, a paper manual, and all that other stuff that goes with shrinwrap software. If I wanted a CD-R and no printed materials, there are other ways to do it.
    • I think you're missing the point. A machine like this allows stores to carry many more titles than they want to stock on their shelves. It also allows smaller software companies the opportunity to offer their products to the computer store audiences without having to deal with the hassles of producing boxed software.

      It's very similar to the model used in iTunes music store and other online music services. You get a big selection at less of a cost to the retailer and small fish like independent artists can
    • One question (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Tired_Blood ( 582679 )
      Seeing as how I've had the misfortune of buying software that didn't work (reimbursement still pending):

      Who do I approach if the purchase warrants a return?
    • Humm...

      You know, I can't remember the last time I bought software, from a store or otherwise. It was probably RedHat7.3 (I was in the habit for a while of buying every second or third RedHat release just to support the company).

      Between Freshmeat, FreshRPMS, and Sourceforge I have not had to pay for software for quite a while.

      I wonder how much money I have saved? Hundreds? Thousands? Quite a bit I imagine. Somehow the idea of paying for software now seems kind of odd. Like, why in the world would I b
      • Any others find that the idea of purchasing software now seems kind of strange?

        Hell, the idea of purchasing food and other material objects has seemed quaint to me ever since I became aware of the inevitability of near-future nanotech. It's still a rare, and some would say naive point of view, but molecular nanotech will soon do for hardware what computing has done for software. Being able to manipulate atoms like bits means that, among other things, "putting food on the table" just got a whole lot easier

  • One problem... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hbean ( 144582 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @03:40PM (#8784400)
    I'm a very active CD archiving person, with live music (think phish/dead/etc, its all legal, but thats really beside the point). In the long term, say 6-8 months, I find that alot of my burned disks become unreadable...which would annoy me alot more if my 400 dollar copy of windows XP pro was burned onto it. I wonder if this is addressed at all by this system, or is the buyer just screwed?
  • One might refer to Microsoft as a Vending Machine.
  • by JustDisGuy ( 469587 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @03:42PM (#8784422)
    This is the technology that might replace their obsolete distribution model.

    Ride, shoot straight & speak the truth.
    • Holy crap, you're right. Particularly for the older stuff. As cool as it would be to buy a copy of VisiCalc 1.0, it'd be really, really nice to get some vintage 60s band soundtrack, or some obscure movie, without having to go to a specialty store.
  • great idea! (Score:5, Funny)

    by dark404 ( 714846 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @03:42PM (#8784434)
    now instead of kicking a machine for your $0.65 snack getting stuck, you can get really mad when your $60 game gets stuck!
  • Skeptical (Score:5, Insightful)

    by l810c ( 551591 ) * on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @03:43PM (#8784437)
    I've just closed up shop on a DVD Rental business a friend and I tried on the side the past year and a half. There are thousands of these machines in Europe and there are several companies that tried it here in the states. I don't think any of them are doing well.

    The downside, like anything requiring some level of technical aptitude in the US, is that the machines are avoided by the masses of shoppers

    He's right on here. Despite being more convienient to a college campus and half the price, people just didn't want to use a machine. There is a different mindset for poeple who know what they want and shop online, most people, however, seem to want to look and touch before they buy.

  • by RailGunner ( 554645 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @03:44PM (#8784466) Journal
    How much money do you think one of these could make if it looked like a soda machine, only the buttons said:

    "Debian Linux - 6 CD's, $6.00"
    "Mandrake Linux - 3 CD's, $3.00"
    "Fedora Linux - 3 CD's, $3.00"
    "Gentoo Linux - 1 CD, $1.00"
    "Knoppix Linux - 1 CD, $1.00"
    "Vector Linux - 1 CD, $1.00"
    "Peanut Linux - 1 CD, $1.00"
    "Microsoft Windows XP Home - 1 CD, $89" This actually might be a good way to get novices to try Linux, especially the Knoppix (or the BitDefender Knoppix based "Linux Defender", which makes an excellent recovery disk)...

  • by xTown ( 94562 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @03:45PM (#8784483)
    ...sheet music, that is. I used to work for a music store, and we had a machine for sheet music that was similar to this one. You put in your money, select your song and key, and it prints out.

    I don't recall ever seeing anyone using it, which made me mad mostly because I was the one who had to unload it from the truck and it was dang heavy.

    People in general are just not going to want to do anything more than push one button, maybe two. It's a lot easier to paw through the bargain bins and the store shelves.

    I also just don't trust something like this. Personally, I want to take something physically from a shelf and walk it up to the counter so that I know exactly what I'm getting.
    • I used to work for a music store, and we had a machine for sheet music that was similar to this one. You put in your money, select your song and key, and it prints out.

      I don't recall ever seeing anyone using it

      Actually, in the days when I bought sheet music, I used that sort of machine in the store a number of times. From what I recall, the selection was not ideal (or I would have used it more), plus of course, there was still plenty of pre-printed music for sale as well.

      If the selection were much bet

  • I've been wondering what those blue-boxed machines are in the back of the store where no one goes near unless they're looking for the bathroom. Next time I've finished my 44 oz. Dr. Pepper and I'm in my Dallas-area CompUSA, I'll have to give it a closer look.

    Er, maybe after I've finished up and washed my hands first.

  • Targeting... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lukewarmfusion ( 726141 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @03:47PM (#8784507) Homepage Journal
    Do you feel safe sticking $100+ into a vending machine? I mean, it's a pain enough to try and stick a single dollar bill into a Coke machine, but try sticking five or six twenties in there.

    Also, these would be targeted like ATMs, but probably with less security. They'll probably sit inside the store, but without the procedural security of a cashier's drawer.

    Will the product be cheaper than the boxed version? If not, why wouldn't you just buy the boxed?
    • Re:Targeting... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jerdie ( 516662 )
      When a customer picks up the CD at checkout
      The cd does not get created at the machine, and you pay at the checkout.
    • Do you feel safe sticking $100+ into a vending machine? I mean, it's a pain enough to try and stick a single dollar bill into a Coke machine, but try sticking five or six twenties in there.

      I take it you've never been to Vegas. The slot machines accept any kind of currency you want to put in, including $100 bills. And they're easy to use, because they use higher quality bill acceptors than the coke machines use. I would imagine that if software vending machines ever accepted cash (which those who have R
  • by GeneralEmergency ( 240687 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @03:48PM (#8784534) Journal

    "The upside to this vending machine is that your CD is burned when you request it,..."

    So...I gotta wait 4 minutes before I find out the machine has taken my money and now the disc is jammed in the damned chute!!!!!

    Ummmm...I think I'll pass on this one.

  • Provided it's easy (AND cheap) to get software onto a machine to be, well, vended (probably not a word), then this is a fantastic distribution mechanism for those indie devs who'd like to have a presence in a B&M. They don't have to worry about shelf placement, the overhead of boxes, old stock, etc.

    The only trouble is how would you advertise on the machine to help direct purchases to your title?
  • One of our local theaters has a small ATM-sized machine that dispenses tickets in exchange for credit card payments. I find it far easier to use this machine rather than waiting in line. Unfortunately, almost nobody seems to agree with me, so the theater hasn't bothered to repair it since it broke a long time ago.

    • here in UK at odeon cinemas you order on the internet (quick and easy), then at the cinema just stick in your credit card and out comes the tickets (and card!).

      the only downside is you can't yet choose your seats (you can at the larger cinemas) but it seems to give the "better" seats first.

      last night I booked a couple of tickets from a premier on Friday, and using this system was the only way to ensure getting into the very first LOTR screenings.
    • hmmmmm, here in california "AMPM" gas stations the last few yeares have started installing kiosks in the islands which take cash or credit. People *LOVE* them. Everyone hates going into the store and waiting in line behind a bunch of idiots to buy gas.

      I was really hoping the mobil speedpass would take off as I found it to be really think exxon mobil, the most profitable company in the world would have the juice to make the speedpass a standard, but no go so far.

    • Yeah, the original says that it is unfortunate that hardly anyone is likely to use them. This may be true from the standpoint of the companies making a buck off the machines, but I've found this the biggest blessing in the case of these movie ticket machines.

      In my case though, they are used just often enough that they get fixed when they break. And it is really surreal when the ticket line is backed out to the street and around the corner, and I can just walk up to the machine and have my tickets in 2 mi
  • People just don't buy software at vending machine volumes. $60 is a lot to spend on a program fer the puter for a non-geek. I realize that we all put software in our budgets, but it's not like some bored housewife goes to CompUSA to see what came out and if she wants it. She does, however, stop at a soda machine if she's thirsty. Do you want software ads to be as pervasive as soda ads? There's not enough time in the day to fit all of that on tv.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I recently saw one of these in the store. They're kinda impressive, easy to use, and rather techno-geek aware. Unfortunately, like everyone else said, no one uses them. I imagine it's not because of some desire to pull software off the shelf, but rather, because the only software you can print out is utter crap. I've found better software sold at Goodwill. Sure, I suppose if I wanted a ripoff of Mario Teaches Typing or 101 Card Games, I could use this machine. I glanced through the selection, and out of 3
  • by superpulpsicle ( 533373 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @03:53PM (#8784622)
    Half the software industry is trying to make all these hi-level security iso so that CDs can't be copied.

    Half the software industry is moving toward "Software-to-go" so that software can be distributed easily.

    Which is it? You can't have both.
  • by Gruneun ( 261463 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @03:53PM (#8784623)
    Imagine the kids opening up a generic, burned CD from CompUSA instead of the flashy box with screenshots. You can forget riding home in the backseat of the car and ripping the plastic off to scour the manual. I guess you can stare at the white CD sleeve and get lost in the Times New Roman font displaying the name of the software printed on the front.
  • by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @03:53PM (#8784627) Journal
    In a few years, these are in every CompUSA, but selling those shareware/PD collections, game demos, windows service packs, maybe a linux distro. Cheap stuff, a couple bucks a CD.

    They'll make a decent profit off of it, and people will like it because it's easier than scraping

    NOONE is going to stick their credit card in a vending machine and trust it to spit out a $500 photo-editing suite or a copy of Windows Server. Well, some would, I wouldnt.

    And as for games, well, people who pay retail prices for games want the box for teh shelf. Besides, as I already said in this story, you cant burn the copy protection.
  • This might help solve the problem of getting patches on to a recently reformatted machine that is vulnerable. Rather than connect the unpatched machine to the internet, you go to CompUSA to get a $9.95 patch disk that fixes known exploits of the OS.

    It would solve the chicken and egg problem -- can't get the patches without going online, shouldn't attach an unpatched machine to the internet.
    • or you could just NAT yourself while you patch and not have to spend $10 every time you want to reinstall a system, assuming you reinstall 5 systems with enough time between that the old patch CD isn't good enough the NAT is worth the money even if you don't use it except when installing/reinstalling windows
  • ... and that's about it.
    Seriously, one the most expensive things for a retail establishment is forcasting and maintaining physical stock. It costs in staff(stock handlers), floor space(often more than the retail space), and risk(loss & damage, obsolete or unpopular products). This "innovation" kills two birds with one stone, just-in-time stock management, and customer self service.

    My other sig is in the wash.
  • This could be a cheaper way for smaller companies to distribute their software. The internet is great for distributing without the publishing costs, but having your software in a store would make a difference. Why not market this idea to companies that can't afford the publishing expense of distributing all over the world. I don't think many would give up the manual and box unless the cost was really less. I mean, if I'm in a CompUSA and want a copy of Microsofts latest and greatest, I'd rather walk dow
  • Seems to me that, if you already know what you want, these kiosks could be nice. No need to hunt around to find the one dusty copy of Mavis Beacon you want to buy (and you KNOW someone out there wants one).

    The problem is that it's damn annoying to browse on these things, and that's where they'll lose the casual shopper. It's the Amazon model - if I know what I want, I'll go online. If I want to browse, I'll head to a brick-and-mortar bookstore and thumb through some books. Borders will also kick me out if
  • Isn't this why we created the Internet?

    "we" meaning those propeller heads at MIT or Al Gore or whoever.

  • I've long wondered where there are no music-vending machines like this? You have this small vending machine with touchscreen where you can select albums/songs, drop in your $5 (or less if less/cheaper music chosen) and walk away with a nice, fresh-burned cd in 3 minutes. Takes very little room, no possibility of music theft, no need for security gates.

    Cost of hardware very small, built from off the shelf components, software simple, built on free opensource components. Songs would be downloaded over bro
  • Okay, so, some book stores keep PDFs of their books around and run off paperback copies at the time they're ordered, rather than keeping a big inventory around. Right?

    So, imagine a machine that printed a real, decent copy of a manual, printed a box with art, burned a CD-R of your software, and assembled the whole shebang at the time you ordered it.

    Wouldn't that be great? Distribution and warehousing costs would plummet, even if it was only ever used behind the counter. The lowering of those costs means
  • I mean, is it too complicated to simply ask the sales person for the software, and have them burn it onto CD?

    It's also quite likely they could print a manual if you wanted it, and the whole set up would be cheaper than normal distribution and more effective at selling than a stupid vending machine.
  • Dead in the water (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SheldonYoung ( 25077 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @04:13PM (#8784868)
    This is a system that has only one real customer, the merchant. It's sole purpose is to make life easier for the retailer and provides very, very few benefits to the consumer. It has all of the hassle of buying from a brick and mortar store with none of the benefits.

    The only advantage of a software vending machine to the consumer is that they always get the latest version of the software. In any reasonably stocked computer store this shouldn't be an issue anyway.

  • The day that people get their software from a physical vending machine is the day we've officially given up on the Internet.
  • Forget buying software using such a kiosk, what about putting something like that in a Blockbuster store, allowing people to buy movies and have them burned immediately to a DVD? They could even pay right at the machine with a credit card, and be able to get a wider variety of content (rare? foreign? pr0n?) than the store would normally want to stock on their shelves.
  • Think of all the things that could go wrong...

    1. Bad burns. Who do you go to if you get a bad copy? Can you get a refund?
    2. Who maintains the file server that the vending machine uses. I am sure a rouge CompUSA employee could easily throw a virus or two on the ISOs.
    3. How do you get the CD key?
    4. Who wants to stand there and wait for a CD to burn?
    5. I hope they use a damn good burner, most will wear out rather quickly.

    Not a sermon, just a thought.
    • by thebatlab ( 468898 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @04:42PM (#8785280)
      1. Bad burns. Who do you go to if you get a bad copy? Can you get a refund?

      Of course they'll offer a refund. Odds are they'll be checking the disk before spitting it out to ensure it's at least readable or even verify the whole thing.

      2. Who maintains the file server that the vending machine uses. I am sure a rouge CompUSA employee could easily throw a virus or two on the ISOs.

      This is a possibility I guess. Odds are they've thought of it but whether they've taken steps to prevent it...

      3. How do you get the CD key?

      Printed on a CD jewel case cover maybe.

      4. Who wants to stand there and wait for a CD to burn?

      The whole 2 minutes? There are like 52x burners out there last I checked. Maybe even faster. My 24x burns a full cd in like 5 minutes. So you figure out what you want, start a burn, browse the store a bit more, come back and there you go. Or you stand there and look at the shiny dials and lights.

      5. I hope they use a damn good burner, most will wear out rather quickly.

      They're probably using a Cicero...ok I mean, yes the burners could wear out. I'm sure they are prepared for that scenario.
  • by Saeed al-Sahaf ( 665390 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @04:44PM (#8785305) Homepage
    The upside to this vending machine is that your CD is burned when you request it, so the latest patches available for the software you're buying might already be included with the installation.

    Do we know this?

    Personally I think this is just another way to charge the same price for less product and less service.

  • How is this any different than, say, Mandrake Cooker or Debian SID? With either of these, you can just download the latest patched software straight from the Internet and burn it onto a CD -- and what's more, you can do it all in the comfort of your own home.
  • by paugq ( 443696 ) <pgquiles@elpau[ ]org ['er.' in gap]> on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @05:06PM (#8785575) Homepage

    My God! We are reinventing the wheel.

    When I had an Spectrum, a company called Labware created something like this. Its name was EDOS. Given that in 1988 computers used to work with cassettes (Spectrum, Amstrad, Commodore 64 & 128...), it recorded software to cassettes.

    It was a computer with a tape recorder and was to be installed in software stores. When you wanted a program, the EDOS connected (through a modem) to Labware, downloaded it and recorded to the tape. Software didn't stay in the EDOS longer than the time it needed to record.

    Here is a photo [].

    Where is the revolution, then?

  • by Jafafa Hots ( 580169 ) on Wednesday April 07, 2004 @01:47AM (#8789782) Homepage Journal
    If people are concerned about the wait while the disc burns, this could be a solution:
    The machine keeps one copy of every combination or selection already burned.
    Face it, people are not going to want to browse through hundreds of titles with this thing - too many button pushes. So there will not be too many titles available, hence no need for a large amount of pre-burned discs.

    So, when you push the button to buy disc #12, it pops out immediately... then the machine burns a new copy while you're already out the door.

    oh shit. I probably should have patented this.
  • by sir_cello ( 634395 ) on Wednesday April 07, 2004 @02:30AM (#8789924)

    is really for tunes, movies and other "entertainment content" for mobiles and pda's. the problem with downloading this type of content over the air is that (a) it's costly, (b) the transfer rates are low. the vending machines can offer high transfer rates at low immediate cost. so, for example, you can waiting at the train station and decide to purchase a 1hr documentary to watch/listen to on the trip: you download it at local bluetooth/IR/usb rate in, say, no more than 1/2 minute. it's effectively the multimedia equivalent of the railway bookshop or newsstand, and surely profitable: it won't work so well for infrastructure/productivity/etc applications, but will for audio, video, tunes, etc. sounds like a great idea.

Math is like love -- a simple idea but it can get complicated. -- R. Drabek