Coin-op Industry Update: Advances in Machine Technology

With technological advances growing more and more complex each day, businesses are affected in a variety of ways.  For those in the vending machine industry, technological growth has, for the most part, been a positive influence on business.  In recent years, coin-op operators have observed some great new capabilities, thanks to these advances, and negative impacts have been few and far between.
Chris Domingue, owner of A&A Entertainment, Inc., in Lafayette, La., said that improvements in technology have made a positive impact on business, particularly in the area of music.  “Internet downloads have made it possible for our jukeboxes to carry millions of songs,” said Domingue.  “In addition,” Domingue stated, “the touch screen bar-top games have more advanced games and the increased storage capabilities have enabled us to have well over 100 games available.”  
“There really are no negatives when it comes to new technology,” said Domingue.  “We used to experience problems with the internet jukeboxes, because they would often go off-line and we would need to go out to a location to reboot, but it is not like that anymore.”  These days, the jukeboxes can be rebooted remotely, which saves a trip and has significantly reduced the number of services calls.
Serving mostly bars, Domingue’s route covers all of Lafayette, La., which is roughly a 20-mile radius.
Youngstown United Music, in Youngstown, Ohio, services restaurants and bars covering a 60-mile radius.  Said Owner Artie Cerimeli, “These advances in technology have taken away a lot of jobs from many people. CD warehouses are closing and the internet download functionality has replaced the original jukebox. We find that we do not necessarily need these fancier, new machines. The same people are going to keep coming back to the same bars, regardless of the machines they find in there. In other words, I don’t think advanced machinery will add business,” Cerimeli said.
However, Cerimeli does acknowledge that innovations in technology have improved business in certain ways.  “New technology has indeed made it easier to replace machine parts, with the CPU boards. Also, today’s new equipment is just incomparable. The flat screen machines are so much better than the old monitor-type of screens,” Cerimeli said.
Dick Gudowski, owner of A1 Amusements, Inc., in Superior, Wis., said that internet downloads and machine capability to take credit cards has affected his business in a positive way.  Additionally, he has found a great development in the area of smartphone applications.  “The My TouchTunes app for iPhone and Android devices has been great,” said Gudowski.  “This app basically allows you to program songs onto a jukebox from your phone.  This is great for many reasons.  You just bring up your location through the app and select songs from the jukebox playlist.  Then, you can choose your songs right from your phone.”
According to Gudowski, this application is not only convenient, but allows users to choose jukebox songs without anyone knowing.  “This way, your friends or other patrons will not be able to give you a hard time for changing up the music or choosing a certain song.  It gives you some anonymity,” said Gudowski.  Moreover, a user’s credit card gets charged with the purchase of a song, allowing people to spend more money.  “Now people do not have to worry about scrambling around for change.  This has made it so much easier,” Gudowski stated.  Another plus?  “If you charge $5 to your card through this app, but only choose to play two songs, you do not lose your money.  Instead, your credit will still be in your phone, so the next time you visit a particular location, you can use it towards more songs.  It is a pretty great feature,” Gudowski said. Gudowski’s route covers bars and restaurants in a 40-mile radius.
Vice president of 3A’s Amusements in Des Moines, Iowa, Tammy Amadeo, has also found internet downloads to be beneficial to business.  “For starters, internet downloads have enabled there to be more songs available on the jukeboxes, which, in turn, produces more money.  Also, internet technology has made it easier to work with the jukeboxes, because if anything goes wrong, it can be fixed right over the phone,” Amadeo said.
Technological advances to bar-top games have also had a positive influence on business.  “Now the bar-top games are connected to the jukeboxes, so customers can play music right from their seats, without having to walk over to choose a song. Making things easier for patrons results in more money, naturally,” Amadeo said.  
On the flip side, now that everything is so computerized, equipment has gotten more expensive and Amadeo finds that waiting for new parts can sometimes take a bit longer these days.  However, to stay competitive, it is important to have the latest machinery; thus, making this downfall simply a piece of the business that must be tolerated.
3A’s Amusements serves bars, restaurants and hotels.  To keep customers satisfied and to handle service calls in an appropriate amount of time, Amadeo said that she keeps her route limited to a 30-mile radius.
It seems unanimous that the most beneficial technological advancement is in the area of internet downloads.  Like the other vendors, Andrew Atilano, assistant office manager of Amusement Coin in Los Angeles, Calif., agreed that the ability to download songs from a jukebox has changed business for the better.  “Nowadays, jukeboxes are more like a giant MP3 player.  It is so easy for someone to choose what songs they want to hear.  People love it and it makes more money for the vendor and for our locations,” Atilano said.
Greg Deller, president of Amusement Games, Inc., in Santa Claus, Ind., said that aside from the obvious advantages of music downloads for jukeboxes and credit card readers, another interesting development in technology has been the “live feature” on video games, such as Silver Strike Bowling and Golden Tee.  “It used to be that you would just play a regular video game of golf or bowling and be done with it, but now there is this ability to play in a tournament against someone else.  For example, from here in Indiana, I can play a golf tournament against a friend of mine in Wisconsin.  This is a great new feature that has only been around a few years.  It makes playing these games a bit more interesting,” Deller said.  
Deller’s locations include bars, restaurants, bowling centers, family entertainment centers and campgrounds, which span a 70-mile radius. –

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