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Is Anything Available Via The Vending Machine?

Updated on April 11, 2007

Kingston Technology is offering something very interesting to the North Terminal in Gatwick Airport of London. They put in a vending machine that doesn't distribute salty snacks, sweet treats, or soda pop, but USB Flash Drives and SD/CF cards.

Am I the only one who thinks this is a little...odd? Maybe I'm just thinking about the day when electronic goods were only available for purchase at your local store. Seems like it was only yesterday. Oh wait, it was actually today.

However, Kingston isn't the only company to put an unorthodox product into a vending machine. In certain subway stations in Hong Kong, you can buy cellphone SIM cards from vending machines. San Francisco International Airport has both iPods and Digital Cameras for its popular vending machine selection. I've heard there is a sneaker vending machine in New York.

Every so often, someone moves technology into a more accessible direction that makes me wonder where we are as a society. I can understand why someone would put snacks and drinks in a machine, because some people live on snack food. However, I didn't realize that we were at the point where we needed to have our SD cards, cellphone SIM card, iPods, and Flash Drives available via Vending Machines.

In case you are wondering, these are quite expensive items. I have no idea if the machines take $100 dollar bills, but many of them use chip and pin transactions, like the type at ATM machines. If I were an electronics distributor, I would be worried about putting my products in a vending machine. The chip and pin technology is often hacked into by outsiders, and how do you stop the guy with the bent coat hanger? Your product may have more selling time as vending machines operate 24/7, but you should budget a little for obvious stolen merchandise that will take place.

Another thing: what happens when I want to get my electronic device, and it gets stuck on the coil? I can't stand it when that happens to my snack food, but I don't count it a huge loss when I can't get to my Doritos. But an iPod might be a $200 investment, and how can I prove that I bought it. By the time that I go for help, some guy will probably come along, purchase the iPod behind my hanging one, and he'll get two iPods for the price of one.

Well, if electronic goods are now available via vending machines, it makes you wonder what the next step is. How about laptops and plasma TVs? I'd like to see the vending machine coils and racks for that one.


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      Mikhail Skorik 8 years ago

      I have yet another example of unusual vending machine -

      My company, FMCG Vending (, was recently developed the Universal Boxed Items Vender (UBV), which employs modular storage subsystem built of easily pluggable and interchangeable modules, which could also be even custom-tailored(!) i.e. specially designed particulary for your product. Our device can vend carefully virtually any boxed- or boxed-like items of different weights and sizes - including PET and glass bottles, tetrapaks, plastic canisters etc.

      The device is twice unique: 1st - it can vend items in formats not available (too big- or too heavy- or fragile) for prevailing majority of other contemporary vendors, and 2nd - the device unites vending capabilities with strong vitrine functionality (due to its completely transparent side walls) and could be effectively used as a mean for product & brand promotion and market share fighting.