Japan has itself a serious love affair with the vending machine. Far beyond the assortment of snacks and sodas you might find in the West, Japanese vending machines will sell you eggs, shoes, rice – pretty much anything under the sun. Certainly, you can already buy phones from vending machines, but now Google’s taking things one step further, introducing Google Play vending machines in Japan that present users with an assortment of apps.
“But wait,” you begin to ask, “why do you need an app vending machine when you can just run the Google Play app on your phone?” And truth be told, you don’t, but that doesn’t mean this project isn’t without value. For one, it gets people thinking about new apps when they might not be otherwise, and the big touchscreens on these machines are a lot more eye-catching than a fleeting ad on your phone itself. It also leverages Japan’s affinity for vending hardware, and an app purchase conducted through one of these kiosks may make for a more satisfying shopping experience than one entirely on the phone itself.
For the moment, this looks like it’s going to be exclusive to Japan, but that really makes a lot of sense. Beyond the cultural significance involved, these machines rely on phones equipped for NFC, which sees much greater availability in Japan than markets like the US.