Apple has filed for a patent for a service (or something) that would allow you to do the following:
Customers might tap a button to order their favorite drink, say a double-shot mocha, as they stroll up to the nearest coffee shop. When the drink is ready go to, the device–such as an iPhone–would chime or blink to let the thirsty one know it’s time to scoop up the order at the counter.
In effect, iPhone users would be able to jump queues at Starbucks and go straight to the ‘waiting for the order’ queue.
What interests me is that this technology would impose a negative externality on coffee consumers without an iPhone. In that situation, you would go into a Starbucks expecting, say, a relatively short wait for a coffee only to find that the ‘payment’ queue did not reflect the real wait time as determined by the ‘wait for order’ queue. That is likely to leave some customers upset. Notice that this will occur even if the Starbucks makes the ‘payment’ queue more efficient with a touch screen ordering system.
The moral of the story: these types of technologies are interesting but it is only by working out the kinks in the overall system that we will really see something that is adopted widely.