Mike Isaac

Recent Posts by Mike Isaac

With Square Stand, Jack Dorsey Brings High Design to the Point of Sale

If you’re a business, Jack Dorsey wants to make your countertop look a whole lot better than it does right now.

That, in part, is the philosophy behind Square Stand, the payments startup’s new point-of-sale product unveiled on Tuesday morning. Sleek and stark white like Square’s other hardware, it’s like something out of the Braun catalog.

But it’s not all about the looks. The hallmark of high design, for some, is matching form with function, and much of Square’s pitch involves the speed and utility of the new product’s design.

“Good design uses form to illuminate function,” Jack Dorsey, co-founder and CEO, told me at an event on Tuesday morning. “But elevating the look of a product is what makes it timeless.”

For better or worse — Dorsey would argue better — the $300 product is incredibly simple. Merchants can strap an iPad 2 or iPad 3 to the white plastic stand, and use the company’s Register software to control the back-end analytics and calculating of orders and items. A built-in swiping card reader is located at the lower front end, facing the merchant, but can swivel around to let the customer swipe their own card, as well. The package, which comes with stand and installation materials, doesn’t come with an iPad or with peripherals like a ticket printer.

This raises a question. Right now, any merchant with an iPad can download Square’s Register software for free, perhaps fashioning their own, home-brewed stand to hold the tablet and take orders. They don’t need to spend three hundred bucks for what essentially amounts to a well-designed prop-up stand.

But that, Dorsey said, is where the point of the product comes in. Two areas are being served by POS systems right now — the very small merchants, who use the company’s existing card reader software out there (or ones from competitors like PayPal or Intuit), and the big, cumbersome (and rather ugly) POS systems used by restaurants and others, which cost somewhere in the area of ten grand or more. For Square’s setup, you could slap a $500 iPad on a $300 stand and perhaps buy one or two of the ticket-printing peripherals to go with it, and be set up for under $1,000.

That middle group, I imagine, is the group of people who would be best served by Square’s new hardware release. And despite Square’s hard push into creating functional software over the past few years, Dorsey maintains that his startup is all about the hardware.

“Hardware has always been a big part of who we are, it’s who we want to be,” Dorsey said. “We always want to use hardware to make experiences better.”

Preorders for the stand start Tuesday, and will begin selling at select retailers in July.

Latest Video

View all videos »

Search »

The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald