Square’s New Card Reader

Kyle Vanhemert, writing for Wired:

Jesse Dorogusker is used to working tiny. Before becoming Square’s VP of Hardware, he spent eight years leading the accessories division at Apple, heading the development of the works-both-ways Lightning connector. With the new Reader, he had the chance to take a crack at a flagship product. Sitting in a booth in Square’s immaculate new offices, huddled over a piece of paper with a dozen half-assembled Readers taped to it like bugs pinned to a science museum display, he detailed the challenge for Wired. […]

The even greater undertaking with the new Reader, however, was the development of a custom chip, built from the ground up. “It’s not typical for a startup to do that,” Dorogusker says. “It’s a little bit of upfront cost to build this from scratch.” But the benefits were huge. After all, this tiny fleck is the brains of the operation. And by building their own chip, Square was able to improve several aspects of the product–its performance, its size, and its overall reliability–in one stroke.

Custom chips are the new competitive edge.

See also: retention of talent is perhaps the biggest problem Apple faces.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013