It began with a Disney Store pilot program where staff would ring out customers via an iPod Touch. A system that was so successful Apple rolled the handhelds into all of their retail stores replacing their well weathered Windows CE-based EasyPay system. Recent reports are indicating Apple is even considering opening this up to widespread commercial use. While great for large retail businesses, the EasyPay Touch units are simply too bulky and overpowered to really be useful for all of the small businesses out there.
Thus the Square is born! A company brought to life by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, has created a adapter for reading "payment cards from any device with an audio input jack, including your mobile phone," as stated on their website. Still in beta testing, the Square is expected to launch sometime in early 2010. They certainly aren't the only ones eyeing this highly untapped and potentially very profitable market though.
Morphie, the company which has been mainly focused battery packs for the iPhone, is the newest player to the game and they are certainly going to be steep competition. Released today was information on a Credit Card Reader which will be specifically designed for the iPhone/iPod Touch that will be accompanied by its own specially made app to run it. Details are still sketchy right now with more being promised at CES 2010 but based on the mockups alone its already creating a stir in the community. Make sure to check back early and often next week for our coverage of CES and hopefully more info on this guy.