Is The End Nigh for the Traditional “PDQ” Machine?


I was in a bar last week, passing the time as you do, waiting for a friend, with one eye on the tennis (I think Sabine Lisicki was not feeling “overawed by the occasion” at that point!), when a very smart looking gentleman walked in, ordered a himself a premium pint, and sat down at the table opposite me.

Nothing strange or untoward up until then, but then he did something, which to me seemed especially surprising, in this day and age…

From a very smart, although extremely traditional looking brown leather brief-case, he pulled out… O My Goodness the shock… an A to Z map of London.

Well it really got me thinking, and the more I think about it, the more it strikes that of those privileged enough to read this post (!), you are probably divided into 2 completed diverse, poles apart, camps.

It struck me that about half may possibly never even have heard of an A to Z (and on another tangent o what a branded mapping opportunity has been missed in the UK to create a premium map app for iPhones, Android phones etc), and the other half who probably think what on earth am I banging on about and why on earth is that in any way strange?

Well I was one of those people talking on a brick-like phone in the 90’s, checking dates and commitments in a Filo-fax, but another equally essential part of any Londoner’s briefcase kit was of course the trusty and ever-present A to Z.  Without the incredible “Knowledge” of a London taxi-driver, it was simply the only way for us to find the last few hundred yards to our intended destination, after the trusty London “Tube” had got us within touching distance of our next meeting.

But it seems like the A to Z has disappeared, almost over-night.  The gentleman in question was smart and distinguished, and although I do get the tactile and retro feel of a real map, I’m sorry the fact that he was thumbing through a completely dog-eared paperback, that could quite easily have been 10/15 years old, just looked odd.  Does he know how much the landscape of London has changed in recent years?  Does he not have a smartphone which will give him access to the very latest map of the area, completely free?  And is he not aware that said smartphone will also take him turn by turn to his required destination, and probably give him a photo just to make he sure he recognises the building when he gets there!?!

So to get to my point in that one second it struck me just how much the key everyday essentials of “doing business” have changed, and very quickly, and it got me to thinking about my own business.

Here is me selling PDQ terminals, which essentially have remained unchanged for the last 20 or so years, so I ask myself, am I in danger of supplying yesterday’s technology?

Well the conclusion that I have come to is that they probably have got a good 10 years left in them yet, but I just get the inkling that their demise could be just as rapid and dramatic as the good old A to Z.  And who would have predicted that 20 years ago?