I spent last week in Palm Springs, CA for Epson's partner conference where I had the opportunity to rub elbows with the company's top VAR and ISV partners. Both Epson and its partners seemed genuinely excited about Epson's new OmniLink products. As mentioned during one of my NRF recaps back in January, when it comes to OmniLink you can think of an Epson printer combined with an embedded processor and memory (i.e. computer) in a package about the same size as the printer.
At NRF and last week's conference, ISVs were as big a part of the conversation surrounding OmniLink as the hardware itself. Indeed, it's the apps being developed that illustrate just how powerful and compelling a product Epson has in its arsenal. ISVs like AppCard (customer loyalty), Livelenz (real-time data analytics), Proximiant (digital receipts and rewards), and SmartReceipt (targeted marketing, nutrition education, location-based advertising) help to drive home the OmniLink benefits of being POS-agnostic, a gateway to the cloud, and a simple bolt-on to existing POS systems.
What really interested me was talk of the more advanced OmniLink DT (as opposed to the entry level OmniLink i version) being used for POS applications, including Web POS. No kidding, the unit is capable of running POS Ready 7 and has the processing power and connectivity options to turn it into a full POS station -- after you connect a touch screen, scanner, cash drawer, and other peripherals.
If all-in-one manufacturers weren't feeling enough pressure from outside competition, now they could have Epson and its huge channel and name recognition as a new entry in their space. One variable that remains to be seen is the cost of such a printer. It might just be that a T88V-DT OmniLink printer with all the necessary peripherals is priced above an entry-level POS system. We'll see.
Regardless of price, the hardware (both the i version and DT) will definitely have many uses. Beyond stand-alone POS, kiosk applications are a no-brainer. But where the OmniLink printers will really shine are in the areas Epson and its existing ISV partners haven't yet thought of. Once VARs, end users, and other ISVs become aware of the platform and apply their creativity is when things will get even more exciting and industry-altering.