Photo: Jack Dorsey
Square’s credit-card reader, which turns any iPhone or iPad into a cash register, is now available in 20,000 stores in the US—doubling its previous retail reach.The fact that you can pick up a Square card reader at Walgreen’s, FedEx Office, and Staples—in addition to the Apple Store, Best Buy, RadioShack, UPS, and Wal-Mart, which already carried it—is looking like a key competitive advantage.
While Square’s competitors, notably PayPal and Verifone, have loudly declared their intention to compete in the market for devices that let you swipe credit cards on mobile devices, they haven’t done as much as Square to make their card readers available.
PayPal Here is nowhere—literally, it still hasn’t launched. A PayPal spokesperson didn’t respond to an email asking about PayPal’s (eventual) retail-distribution plans, if any.
Verifone’s Sail, which got caught cribbing its legalese from Square’s user agreement, hasn’t copied Square’s retail-distribution strategy. When sellers sign up for the app, they’ll get the card reader delivered by mail in three to five business days, according to a spokeswoman for Verifone.
Intuit, similarly, mails out its GoPayment card readers.
Even if Square’s competitors switch gears and start distributing readers in stores, they may find it tough to displace Square without offering expensive incentives to retail partners, who offer limited shelf space to specialised gear like credit-card readers.
Square COO Keith Rabois dissed PayPal Here and other competitors in a recent interview with GigaOm for making announcements without much substance. But on this, he’s got a point: You can actually find Square at a store near you.
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