I stopped in my tracks the first time I noticed a crowd gathering around an unassuming Zoom iPod vending machine in the bottom of Macy's in San Francisco's Union Square. The concept was especially entertaining because there is a giant Apple store less than two blocks away, but I soon realized the machines allow you to buy the iPod without waiting around for a salesperson. Of course, they're probably deadly to those of us with that impulse buy gene.
The SF Zoom machine isn't the only station drawing a crowd. According to media reports, one of the machines at the Atlanta, Ga. airport pulls in about $55,000 a month in gross sales. Business Traveler Service, which operates the Zoom machines in the Atlanta airport, says they haven't found any customer resistance to using a credit card to buy a $300 iPod from the machines. For a close up of the machine, just