Flawed product design for prosumer: SumUp Air

Don’t get me wrong, I love product design.

Well defined product functionality implemented with mature and state of the art industrial process can yield very nice products.

But in some cases, pushing sleekness over function don’t deserve the product well. This is especially the case for prosumer product: professional consumer want sturdy, rugged product, surviving the field.

Even a sales person on a show with a tablet for demo want certain level of toughness: the tablet can be drop by the visitor, will be abused during storage and transport, etc..

Today I want to talk about SumUp Air: a small payment terminal, synced with your smartphone to accept payment over 3G/4G or Wifi.

The idea is great: use your smartphone to do the accounting/sales stuff, while having a dedicated card reader with pin input Bluetooth synced to hand to the customer.

But the implementation is very, very poor.

After few years of use, I found out the following issues:

  • the device is BLE: it’s always on, advertising every 10sec: this sucks as if you have it in your car with your stock, it is a plain beacon and screaming to be broken in
  • the device cannot be switch off: yes, there is no way to switch it off. Contacting the support service, they told me you cannot even remove the battery as the signature/encryption key are in volatile memory (this is interesting as the battery must definitely be a li-po and can be over-discharged at some point)
  • the keyboard interface is tactile (capacitive sensors), customer have trouble typing the pin in as there is no feedback of the switch press: why using a tactile technology for this!
  • the front face is glass: just drop it and it will shatter: this is a field tool, the device WILL fall down, especially while handling it to customers, outdoors, etc..
  • Bluetooth wake up and pairing is just a pain: while it’s supposed to wake up when you start the transaction on your smartphone, most of the time it doesn’t: you can to re-enable discovery/pairing on the front of you customer
  • Location must be enabled on your smartphone: while this is interesting for transaction history, this is also a bad idea: it just drains the battery from your smartphone super fast.
Tactile is not great for user feedback
Yes, concrete floors always win

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