According to a report from kiosk research firm Summit Research (which has been summarized here), the kiosk industry will see 69% growth between now and 2007, with overall shipments of kiosk products and services peaking around the end of next year. Anybody following this industry will notice that these numbers are not dramatically different than what Summit posted last year. What is somewhat sobering, though, is the comparison of these new estimates with those from late 2000 early 2001, when growth thorough '05 was expected to be about 400% of what it currently is (Forrester Research was the biggest culprit in this case). Of course, at that time nobody really had any idea of what a post-bubble economy looked like, and everybody was struggling to cope with the effects of market slowdown and erosion. I think some people even thought that boundless optimism would somehow buoy the industry... they were quite obviously wrong.
Now I'm forced to wonder how much of an effect the stupid e-voting mandate and the work of companies like Diebold
have to do with the current kiosk upswing. While Summit's report
notes that retail is the biggest consumer of these technologies, I'd
guess that federal, state and local government purchases can't be
entirely overlooked. On the other hand, considering that
California has decertified their Diebold solution, and the ACLU is currently suing the state of Ohio
to take these machines offline before the November elections, there
might not be a lot of volume in that market anytime soon :) I
know I've been pretty vocal about the dire state of electronic voting
in the past, but these recent events aren't proving to be the least bit
encouraging. And while extensive provisions are being made to
ensure that electronic voting will be reliable and secure this
November (as this NY Times article
points out), many sre still raising issues about the efficacy of the
machines. Interested readers might also want to check out this article in eWeek that has an excellent summary of the situation.