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Motorola Unveils Phone Vending Machines 125

DaveWick79 writes "The 'Instantmoto' is being installed at 20 malls and airports nationwide and will carry about 30 products including 12 phones and 18 accessories. Included is the popular Razr and you can choose whether or not to purchase with a service plan. Instead of being dropped into a tray, apparently a robotic arm will 'gently deliver' the product to consumers. The only question now is, will we be able to pay for these items using our cell phones?"
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Motorola Unveils Phone Vending Machines

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  • can I (Score:3, Funny)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <> on Thursday September 21, 2006 @07:08PM (#16157689) Homepage Journal
    use the cell phones I want to purchases to purchases the cell phone I am purchasing?
  • I've seen some of the iPod vending machines with the robotic arms. Seems like this is pretty much the same idea in the same locations.
    • by adam ( 1231 ) * on Thursday September 21, 2006 @07:14PM (#16157726)
      cellphone vending machines just seem like a bad idea to me.. the general public is not very sharp, and need things spelled out for them by an "informed" consultant (aka guy in collared shirt who makes min wage + %).

      ipod vending on the other hand.. not nearly so many options, and i could see myself using an ipod vending machine in an airport. generally when i am flying, i am in a rush and trying not to forget things, and inevitably i forget something stupid.. like bringing a book to read, etc. this is why periodical shops exist in airports. if the vending machine had an ipod that included the ability to perform itunes purchase + wireless download enabled, that is a combination i can see being very effective in airports; buy ipod, download $30 worth of itunes music, enjoy flight. of course, it's moot because ipod doesn't do wireless download [yet?].
      • Preloaded content? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Barrellina ( 922837 )
        Then how about preloaded content... on the mobile?

        In Japan I reckon you could make a bit of a killing by preloading the mobiles with "schoolgirl" content! Some text messages, photos, a bit of video, voice mail, and some music... pretend it was an actual schoolgirls mobile that hasn't been deleted and is being resold - executives are doing it already with sensitive corporate data their smartphones and laptops ed_smartphones_reveal_corporate_secrets/0,1300617 []
      • Target audience? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Inoshiro ( 71693 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @08:13PM (#16158054) Homepage
        Seriously, I'm not about to go buying 150-450$ of iPod + iTunes music on a spur-of-the-moment thing from a vending machine at an airport. How many people are honestly going to do this?
        • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

          by DigiShaman ( 671371 )
          How many people are honestly going to do this?

          Well, some arabs will need spur-of-the-moment remote triggering devices. It's the whole 72 virgins thing...
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Pollardito ( 781263 )
          roughly the same number of people would do this as the number of people that could expense it to their business trip cost
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by enrevanche ( 953125 )
          more than you think.
          • Travellers who want an ipod.
          • Travellers who forgot theirs and are going on a long trip
          • Travellers who decide that it's time to upgrade or want a spare
          • Last minute gifts

          The average airline passenger is far above average in income and these and also people on vacation are willing to spend a lot more than they usually would. $150 will often seem like not that much in comparison to the ticket. Also a lot of travelers have to wait a long time in an airport with nothing to do.

          An airport is

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by cookieinc ( 975574 )
          What if the cost of the iPod was a deposit, and you could drop your iPod at the 'Returns' counter at the destination airport and recieve 70% of your deposit back? Or if you fall in love with it mid-flight, you could just keep it...
        • by Firehed ( 942385 )
          More importantly, how are you going to put music on the thing? Sure, slashdotters always have their laptops on them, but not everyone is toting their music collection to the mall or airport. I don't often buy candy bars or soda from vending machines that I can't open until I get home, so there's not a whole lot of logic behind an impulse buy of electronics that you can't use immediately.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by AtomicBomb ( 173897 )
          You miss the point: it is just another type of advertisment board.
      • Given the amount of crap I've been told by "informed consultants" I have to disagree.

        I think it's a good idea, especially for out-of-contract phone sales. One thing I'm surprised by is that Motorola doesn't generally sell unlocked cellphones directly in the US, and I'd like to see them change that habit. But selling out-of-contract is good, and putting the entire thing in a vending machine makes it very clear cut what you're getting.

        Trying to buy an out-of-contract phone from a shop is a PITA. In 99% o

    • by HunahpuMonkey ( 613489 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @07:25PM (#16157794)
      I have a hard enough time trying to pull a big old stuffed animal out with those robotic arms much less a tiny tiny phone. At 50 bucks a pop rather than 50 cents, I'm going to waste a lot of money.
      • If you think people get mad and beat machines because their $0.75 bag of chips got stuck, what do you think the person who just spent $250 on a phone are going to do when it gets stuck? That person is going to beat that machine until they break through the door. Think bats, crowbars, and smashing with vehicles, and then it's "Hey everybody, free cellphones!" (Veiled reference to a line from Police Academy.)

        Here's a question. If buying too many pre-paid cellphones from Walmart can get you arrested (terror
        • Also, will breaking into one become a federal offence
          Anything could become an offense-- even trolling on Slashdot. However, breaking into vending machines is not, nor could it be construed as, a federal offense under current law.
    • Was at the Grammercy Park Hotel in NYC earlier this week. In the room is a JBL iPod dock and a little note saying something like, "this iPod is provided as a courtesy for you during your stay. If you wish to purchase it and the songs we have preloaded, $750 will be added to your bill." The weird part? There wasn't any iPod in the dock! I had to call down to the front desk and say, "Hey! WTF?". They explained that the hotel had just opened and the iPods were not available yet. I'm thinking, "Duh! Th
    • What is the percentage rate of items getting stuck, like in a food vending machine? I would be pretty pissed if I just fed the damn machine $250 only to see it dangle at the end of the arm. Then some dude puts down his $250 and gets 2 ipods for the price of one.
  • much better (Score:5, Funny)

    by User 956 ( 568564 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @07:09PM (#16157702) Homepage
    Instead of being dropped into a tray, apparently a robotic arm will 'gently deliver' the product to consumers.

    That's much better than the prototype I saw, where the robot arm disembowels the customer and spills their entrails all over the linoleum.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by schwaang ( 667808 )
      That's much better than the prototype I saw, where the robot arm disembowels the customer and spills their entrails all over the linoleum./blockquote
      Whiner. What part of "you have 30 seconds to comply" did he not understand?
    • That's much better than the prototype I saw, where the robot arm disembowels the customer and spills their entrails all over the linoleum.

      That was the RIAA/MPAA sanctioned Entertainment Media Dispenser, with Genuine Lawyer Personality, wasn't it?

      we swear it was only meant to extract a pound of flesh, the drm was written with our approval by microsoft...

    • That's much better than the prototype I saw, where the robot arm disembowels the customer and spills their entrails all over the linoleum.

      Dude, I saw that movie []. It sucked.
      The sound track rocked, though.
  • by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <> on Thursday September 21, 2006 @07:10PM (#16157708) Journal
    Just saw this concept in Ultraviolet -- you could buy a phone from a vending machine, and it would be "printed", ready to go. It usually takes much longer for a concept like this to go from scifi to reality!
  • Disposable Phones... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Abreu ( 173023 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @07:12PM (#16157716)
    I remember that some company in the late 90's had a brain-dead business plan to sell "disposable" cellphones in supermarkets and vendor machines. Made out of cheap plastic and designed to be thrown away once the minutes in it were exhausted...

    Yeah, probably the people in charge of this "great idea" are not panhandling now, as I thought they would.
  • by Tavor ( 845700 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @07:13PM (#16157720)
    Is if these are being installed in airports, will we be able to take them onto planes in the future?
  • The default password for this vending machine is... the same as the ATM's: 0012345
  • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @07:18PM (#16157757) Journal
    It's going to be interesting to see what price they put on the phones without a service plan. I suspect that the phone companies inflate the value of the phones that they discount, leading to inflated sales tax payments in most states in the USA (for those who don't understand this, when you buy a phone with a service plan, because services are not usually subject to sales taxes, the state insists that the vendor collects and pays sales tax based on a nominal full price of the phone, even if the price paid for the phone is discounted, sometimes to zero).

    If the price without a plan is less than the price that the phone company would normally quote for the phone, one could argue that less sales taxes are due on a new discounted phone.

    • The average phone in the US is sold with at a cost of about $300-$500 per user (most of this came from 3 sources: direct hardware subsidies, sales commisssions, and advertising/signups). You used to be able to see this at Nextel, who broke out hardware charges separate from network revenues and costs. When this was done most phones sold for about $70-120 less than cost. If a non-plan phone were sold at a mark up (normal markup for electronics is 20-35% with special cases being far more and far less the u
  • Now all we need is the default password and somebody who can reprogram it. Imagine: you request a Nokia 3120 and it dispenses a Motorola Razr.
    • by wampus ( 1932 )
      I would find the person who did it and kill them with the Razr. I 3 my Nokia. It makes good phone calls, something I've found lacking in most Motorolas I've experienced lately.
  • a vending machine (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Xargle ( 165143 )
    is news? given that there are already plenty of ipod vending machines etc in similar locations why is this worthy of any sort of attention? now if there was a hack to get free product from them.... then i'd be interested.
  • New meaning (Score:3, Funny)

    by vanyel ( 28049 ) * on Thursday September 21, 2006 @07:35PM (#16157850) Journal
    apparently a robotic arm will 'gently deliver' the product to consumers

    Let me be the first to say this gives a whole new meaning to "reach out and touch someone"...

  • Yeah- the idea is that you don't have to interact with a person. Any more it seems that many people are more comfortable interacting with machines anyhow.

    Where will we end up?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Sqwubbsy ( 723014 )
      Yeah- the idea is that you don't have to interact with a person. Any more it seems that many people are more comfortable interacting with machines anyhow.

      Have you dealth with any of the winners working at the cell phone store? They're almost as bad as Radio Shack associates (or whatever they're called.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Yeah- the idea is that you don't have to interact with a person.

      Heh -- I suppose they'll buy the phones to interact exclusively with machines.

      We now have a generation or two of people who are perfectly content to talk to an inanimate object. This is just the next step -- people who only talk to inanimate objects

    • by tilde_e ( 943106 )
      I think it is is easier to program the machines to force you to buy the phone insurance than to train the sleezy sales-persons that go so far as to select the option on the form for you stating that it is "required" even though the form says it is optional and you say you don't want it. Since machines don't work for commission they wont say "trust me, I'll make a note and remove it for you tomorrow."
    • Sexbots, and the extinction of the human race. It's the only logical solution.
    • by The Man ( 684 )
      Yeah- the idea is that you don't have to interact with a person. Any more it seems that many people are more comfortable interacting with machines anyhow.

      Here's the thing: interacting with machines is usually more pleasant than interacting with the kinds of people they've replaced. Why? Because the people they're replacing tend to be salespeople, underpaid and commissioned. No one wants to deal with a desperate salesperson who will lie, hassle, and annoy you into buying whatever they're selling. There

  • ...they'll have automated "vending" machines that serve you bubble gum and refreshing fizzed drinks. The future is now!
  • This would be great if it truly was an impulse buy. Put money into vending machine, get phone, start using it; Refill as necessary.

    But this is no different than the packaged cell phones they sell at Target and other stores -- you still need to go through the hassle of signing up for a rate plan, etc. The only difference is that now you have to pay for the phone instead of getting it free of charge for signing a contract.

  • If these have an interface in Spanish, the things will sell like hotcakes^H^H^H^H^H tomales. Many illegal immigrants don't have credit card accounts.

    I'm not trying to insult anyone. It's a good sales strategy.

    • It's in english:
      Shoppers will be able to use credit cards to purchase mid- to high-end models, including the Razr and the Q, and can buy [...]
      Emphasis mine.
  • Soda vending machine (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dochood1966 ( 996087 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @07:48PM (#16157926)
    I first saw a soda vending machine similar to this in Germany. A little elevator moved up, a robot arm gently pushed the soda onto the elevator, and it brought it down to the door. I chuckled at the ingenuity, but I really started to appreciate it after coming back and using the soda machine at church. It unceremoniously dumps it down the shoot. When you open it, it, well.... SHOOTS!!!

    That soda machine ranked up there with the self-cleaning toilet seat for pure engineering coolness! Third runner up was the radar that told you how close to the curb you were. That was the first time I had ever seen that!

    Those danged German engineers! They think of EVERYTHING!!!

    • by EotB ( 964562 )
      Yeah, I've seen a few of those around. I think my favourites have been the ice-cream vending machines. They basically have a fridge with a motorised lid that flips itself up, then a big vaccuum cleaner type nozzle that gets lowered down to the ice-cream, turned on, then lifted out while sucked on to the ice-cream. It then gets dropped out a chute.
      Its a pretty simple idea really, but sometimes it doesn't work out and your ice-cream either never comes out or just gets dropped somewhere inside the machine
    • by Jardine ( 398197 )
      I really started to appreciate it after coming back and using the soda machine at church.

      Your church has a vending machine?
    • by denjin ( 115496 )
      The hospital I work at in the US has had these vending machines for quite a while now, so it isn't a German phenomenon. :)
  • does anyone see these lasting longer than 10 seconds before someone breaks into them and just takes everything...
  • I've been playing table-top RPGs for many years. In a game called Mage, I had a mage who carried around a "palmtop" computer. It did pretty much everything a normal computer did. Today there's PocketPCs that put to shame the desktop computers we had back then.

    Our characters were also always in need of a cell phone. We invented a machine, that for $100 (or whatever currency was being used in game), you could go to a "vend-a-phone" and get one of your very own.

    I should sue Motorola for stealing my i
  • Any idea when they will having vending machines that dispense vending machines?

    Theoretically, you'd only ever need one at a location, for all of time. (Well that...and a lot of floor space.)
  • Not only has this been around for a while, it was written up on Slashdot. "Get Your iPod Fix From a Vending Machine" [] back in May covered the same vending machine, but loaded up with iPods instead of cell phones.

  • by SteveXE ( 641833 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @08:53PM (#16158214)
    Its hard enough to buy a Cell phone at a store that just sells Cell phones. Will it be easier to buy them from a vending machine? Will I still have to listen to a speech about insurance, or calling plans? Will I get my soul back when the contract expires?!
    • Will I get my soul back when the contract expires?!

    • I don't know about anywhere else, but in the UK it takes a lot to get a mobile phone. Living in temporary student accomodation far away from home, when I needed a new phone it was a lot of hassle. I had been on pay as you go with this company for six years and wanted to go onto contract (I'm not sure if the following checks are needed to get a new pay as you go these days). They asked for photo ID which i didn't have because I just don't have any. They needed two bills to prove my home address, which requir
  • Well... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cervantes ( 612861 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @09:03PM (#16158261) Journal

    I bet the terrorists will just love these.
  • Who the heck is going to buy a cell phone out of a vending machine? They don't sell enough Razr's through all of their other distribution channels?
  • I've been buying cell phones and accessories from a TALKING machine for years! It's called Raido Shack.
  • and from TFA: "The products are delivered to consumers by a robotic arm and are run from a central location, similar to the way automated teller machines are operated."

    hmmm... nope, I'm not saying anything...
  • In Europe the standarts are different. I'm not sure but I think that US has GSM-1900 and GSM-800 and some kind of AMPS (D-AMPS or something like that) while in Europe it's GSM-1800 and GSM-900. If someone flies from Europe on a business trip and discovers that their phone won't work, buying a phone that will definetly work at the airport without those shop assistants trying to sell you the most expensivething is a good option.
    • Also WCDMA at 1900MHz (I think the auction for 2100MHz finished recently, so that shouldn't be a worry anymore.
  • by drDugan ( 219551 ) *
    more important, when will you need a state issued ID to be able to communicate with them?

  • how often do you need a new phone exactly? I've owned 3 in my life. the first lost its screen over time, the second was stolen. I've had the third maybe 3 years now, and see no reason to upgrade it. It makes phone calls. Job done. Foe everything else phones do, I have a home PC. I drive, so I dont need a phone to play games on at the bus stop, and i can't think why people MUST speak to me instantly anyway. most of the time the things left in a drawer anyway.
    The thought of getting through so many phone upgra
  • hey, this machine ate my change!
  • ..about putting $300 in a vending machine. Do these things have tight security, or can you open them with a minibar key?
  • Shouldn't it be named "VDNG MCHN"?
  • More than I year ago, I used a vending machine at Hartsfield in Atlanta to purchase a pack of CDRs. Also available was a pre-pay mobile phone, digital camera, USB flash drive, "universal" laptop power supply, and other items. The machine was rather near, using X/Y linear stages to move a bin to pick the purchased item from the rack, then place it into the delivery bin. Touchscreen interface, likely WinXPe, but nevertheless a neat machine.
  • It sounds like these will be unlocked phones(at least the GSM phones). Makes me wonder if people will pay $200-$300 for a phone when t-mo will give them one for $50 with the 2 year contract subsidy.
  • So, what's the return policy? Will my cell phone companies insurance offer a coverage for the 3rd party purchase? If I purchase a plan with the phone, will it be ready to go out of the box?
    Wasn't there just a huge problem with people buying a bunch of prepaid phones at wal-mart? What is going to keep someone from buying these phones, with stolen credit cards?
  • I wonder how long before someone tries to steal one with a truck (like an ATM). If you get chased by the police, just use one of the cellphones to call your local news to tell your side of the story (and get the latest goings on in sports from Trip Whitman!)

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