Beacon adoption has been all but abandoned by most retail chains, suggests a report today.
iBeacons and other beacons were once touted as a technology that would revolutionise retailing. They would help us find products in-store, provide easy access to detailed information on our iPhone when looking at a product display, and beam us discounts and offers to help us save money.
The reality, however, hasn’t lived up to the hype …
The Next Web has an interesting piece talking about what Jeff Powers refers to as ‘Class 2 smarthomes.’
With today’s tech – Class 1 – we do have things liked timed automations, but a lot of the time we’re controlling things manually. Class 2 smarthomes would, he argues, be truly smart, and figure out a lot more things on their own.
Some of what he proposes would be pretty complex, but there’s one idea in there which Apple could fairly easily implement, and which would make HomeKit a lot friendlier for non-techies …
We’ve heard quite a lot about iBeacons over the years, but to date they don’t seem to have made much of an impact. We’ve seen adoption from a small number of high-profile brands, such as Condé Nast, Disney, Hudson’s Bay Company and SXSW, but it’s rare to see much sign of iBeacon presence even in major shopping centers in large cities.
Which is odd, when you consider the evidence of their value. One trial, back in 2014, found that they boosted purchase intent by twenty times. Another found a similar increase in product interaction, and found that users were much more likely to keep a retailer app installed if they received iBeacon notifications through it.
But it’s of course a chicken-and-egg problem: retailers are reluctant to invest much in a technology few consumers even know exists, and consumers don’t know about iBeacon technology because hardly anyone’s using it. It’s a particular stretch for small businesses to invest.
There are, though, a few companies aiming to allow even the smallest business, or non-profit, to begin using the technology. We looked at the Beaconic system some 18 months ago, and I’ve been playing with Live Beacon, a system which may be more appealing for reasons I’ll get to shortly …
I’ve been interested in iBeacons — proximity-based wireless transmitters — ever since they were first announced by Apple alongside iOS 7 at WWDC in 2013. The idea of walking into a store, restaurant, or other public space and receiving (opt-in) wireless notifications based on proximity to a Bluetooth sensor struck me as a potentially compelling next step forward for both retailers and smartphone users. Even more exciting was the opportunity to receive incentives, such as coupons or free apps, just for being in proximity to the store. iBeacons have been added to Apple Stores, Macy’s, MLB baseball parks, and even bars, offering giveaways of free apps and magazines, as well as everything from locations of products to seating directions.
In a twist, iBeacons aren’t being sold directly by Apple. The name is being used across a variety of third-party products that meet an Apple specification, and sold by different companies throughout the world. When I heard that a European developer named Beaconic was dropping its prices on iBeacons to levels any small retailer could afford — around $107 for two “Power” beacons or $141 for four “Retail” beacons, each with an unlimited software license — I reached out to the company so I could see what the retailer and customer experience was like. Here’s what I learned…
Google today announced a new beacon technology called Eddystone along with APIs that together it hopes will make it easier for Android and iOS-powered devices and beacons in close proximity to communicate with one another. Unlike iBeacon, Apple’s take on the Bluetooth-based protocol, Eddystone is open source and designed to be easily extendable, compatible with any device which supports the use of beacons. A new API announced alongside Eddystone, compatible with iOS and Android devices and available to Android developers today (iOS support forthcoming), uses inaudible sound emitted from device speakers and heard from other devices using their microphones to determine when other smartphones and tablets are nearby so data can be transmitted between them.
South by Southwest (SXSW) just launched its official mobile app ahead of the festival and alongside it announced plans for the world’s largest deployment of iBeacons to offer mobile app features triggered by the Bluetooth beacons. In total, more than 1000+ beacons will be deployed to pull it all off. SXSW thinks the features will “fundamentally change attendee’s experiences” by letting mobile app users network and navigate the event.
Like several other professional sports teams, the Cleveland Cavaliers will now be sending out location-aware notifications to iPhone users at its games using Apple’s Bluetooth beacon iBeacon tech. The team will send out the usual reminders, video content, and promos available to those at the game.
The team announced today that the notifications (pictured above) will be sent to fans through the official Cleveland Cavaliers app. YinzCam, Inc develops the app and is using Gimbal Bluetooth beacon hardware at the Cav’s Quicken Loans Arena to get the job done.
The opt-in notifications will include the following:
- Welcome messages and exclusive video content for fans as they enter and explore different areas of the arena
- Exclusive content delivered by points of interest, such as the 1976 Miracle of Richfield video highlights, viewable when fans pass the display of the original hardwood classic court from the Richfield Coliseum
- Promotional incentives and giveaways to fans who attend games
- Reminders about game times and to pick up 50/50 raffles tickets when volunteers are close by
- Fan-controlled privacy with up-front opt-in, so engagement is only on the terms the fan wants
The MLB was one of the first professional sports team to adopt the tech for beaming location sensitive notifications to attendees at games, while the Golden State Warriors became the first NBA team to take advantage last year followed by several others.
The Cleveland Cavaliers app is available on the App Store now.
Way back in July, Apple registered FCC certification for a new piece of iBeacon Bluetooth hardware. Naturally, 9to5Mac covered the release of wireless certification documents for the hardware. It was unclear by those filings the nature of the product, whether it was targeted at use in Apple Stores, some form of developer testing equipment or something else entirely. The product was never made publicly available for purchase, for unknown reasons.
However, time has elapsed such that the rest of Apple’s submitted documents are now available to the public. Vitally, this includes a user manual which immediately signals that this iBeacon hardware was meant for developers, presumably to test iBeacon integration in their own apps. It’s unclear, though, if this is meant to be used ‘in the wild’. Read on for an exposition on the workings of this mysterious device.
The latest stats from Swirl Networks, the company behind a number of beacon deployments at high-profile retailers, shows that shoppers in the US are embracing Bluetooth beacons and along with it Apple’s iBeacon framework for app developers sending location sensitive notifications to users. More specifically, data collected from the company’s beacon deployments in recent months shows that beacons are influencing the way we shop with more than half engaging with the feature and many redeeming beacon offers when making purchases.
If you’re a retailer, you have two options when it comes to deploying Bluetooth beacons. You can deploy the hardware yourself and build an accompanying mobile app for the experience, or you can open the experience to existing apps that users already have on their device using a beacon network. Some retailers have decided they want to own the experience and have everything go through their own mobile app, but new data suggests that might not be the way to go.
Samsung Proximity is a mobile marketing platform that connects consumers with places via cutting-edge Samsung location and context-aware technology.
With Samsung Proximity, visitors are able to experience rich content related to their location, and marketers can better engage with customers for increased sales and brand awareness.
The applications Samsung describes for the service are identical to those already in use with Apple’s iBeacon partners …
Apple will brief MFi accessory makers on HomeKit, Lightning headphones, iBeacon & game controllers next week
Apple’s annual MFi summit, an event for accessory manufacturers in its Made-for-iPhone/iPad/iPod licensing program, will focus on getting accessory makers ready for new technologies including HomeKit hardware, iBeacon, Apple’s new Lightning headphones spec, and game controllers, according to Apple’s official event schedule.
Apple launches new service allowing local businesses to get listed on Apple Maps, solicits indoor mapping partners
Apple has launched a new web service called Maps Connect that allows small business owners to manage their listings on Apple Maps along with a tool for setting up indoor positioning in select areas. Companies can enter their own listings and verify via a phone call or email address.
The iBeacon-powered indoor mapping tool allows businesses to setup interior views of their businesses on Apple Maps to help guide users through their venues. This tool is currently limited only to locations that meet specific criteria, such as Wi-Fi throughout the building and at least 1 million visitors per year.
Apple and longtime partner Disney this week are bolstering their stores with upgraded versions of iBeacon sensors and NFC readers, according to sources. Apple Stores have had iBeacons stationed throughout showroom floors for several months as a way to pinpoint exactly where a customer is within the store. This allows Apple to better serve customers by providing relevant sales information to their iPhones and iPads while in the store. The upgrades happening this week within Apple Stores place several new Gimbal Series 20 Proximity Beacons across stores to make location tracking within the store even more accurate.
In addition to providing relevant information for the Apple Store app, iBeacons can be useful for NFC mobile payment technologies as a form of authentication. If Apple knows where a customer is in the store to a precise degree, it can ensure that is it wirelessly connecting to the correct iPhone for mobile payments. As has been widely reported, the new iPhone 6 and upcoming Apple wearable device will include new wireless sensors (including a near field communication chipset) to conduct mobile payments with credit cards stored in an upgraded Passbook application.
After announcing it would take advantage of iBeacons deployed by inMarket in grocery stores back in April, today Condé Nast’s Epicurious is announcing a partnership with another iBeacon network to further expand the context-sensitive notifications beamed to its users. Swirl, the same company behind recent beacon deployments in Hudson’s Bay Company and Lord & Taylor, will now deliver location-aware notifications to the Epicurious app via its network of beacons already deployed in retailers:
iBeacons seems to be gaining momentum: the same day the Hudson’s Bay Company announced its rollout of the technology to its department stores, upmarket German restaurant group the Mook Group has told the WSJ of its own plans to use iBeacons to recognize and reward frequent diners.
The app clocks the time guests spend in the restaurant and uses a ranking system to reward them for their loyalty […]
Diners can use the app to climb their way from “Guest” ranking to “Addicted Connoisseur” level based on the amount of time spent at any one of group’s venues. Guests with higher-level app statuses are rewarded with a free welcome drink, automatic placement on the guest list for future events or even fast-track entrance.
Measuring how long someone spends in a restaurant might be a slightly odd basis on which to reward them, but owner Christian Mook says that they later hope to track items ordered and total spend.
“It will be even more interesting when we get to the next step and we know guest’s names, what people drink and eat, how often and when the client comes in – whether for private reasons or business reasons, all as a way to improve service,” Mr. Ladjimi said, adding that any access to information would be on a voluntary basis and with the client’s authorization.
Diners don’t need to interact with the app while they are in the restaurant – they simply need to install and authorize it beforehand. So long as it is installed on their phone when they visit, the app and the iBeacons do the rest.
If you’re not yet fully up to speed with iBeacon technology, you can check out our briefing here.
It’s not the first department store with plans for iBeacons, but it’s certainly one of the biggest we’ve seen yet deploying the Bluetooth LE beacons that send shoppers location-aware, targeted notifications. Today Hudson’s Bay Company announced that it’s rolling out an iBeacon shopping experience in some of its 130 The Bay and Lord & Taylor department store locations across the US and Canada.
Hillshire increases sales w/ iBeacon, 20x increase in purchase intent, 500x increase over average mobile ads
With more and more retailers, event spaces, and others deploying Apple’s Bluetooth LE iBeacon technology in order to beam iPhone and iPad users context and location aware notifications, we still haven’t seen much data on how the beacons are improving ad engagement for marketers. InMarket, a company installing iBeacons in grocery stores around the country that talk to a number of apps from its advertising partners, today shared some of the first stats from a specific consumer brand using the platform.
Estimote, the company behind the iBeacons I tested in my Launch Center Pro 2.3 coverage and used by easyJet in select European airports, is introducing a round of improvements to its beacon product line and corresponding software today. The primary focus of the improvements deals with power management and how Estimote’s iBeacons consume battery. In short, Estimote’s iBeacons are getting smarter about how they connect and stay powered by adding two beacon power modes including Basic and Smart…
On July 4th of this year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) made filings public from Apple regarding an Apple-branded piece of iBeacon equipment. The hardware is shown above to be a rounded hub-like device with a USB port and a dedicate on and off switch at the bottom…
Since Apple introduced iBeacon functionality alongside iOS 7, several different use cases have popped up allowing various retailers, sporting venues, and others to interact with visitors’ devices using the technology. Deploying iBeacon support enables iPhone users to receive relevant information through apps based on very specific location without taking a major hit to the device battery.
Apple is preparing an update to its iOS 7 mobile operating system that will fix issues with Mail attachment encryption, iBeacon connectivity, and security problems that exist in the current version, reports MacRumors. There is also speculation that the new version could make it easier for users to disconnect their phone numbers from iMessage, but there’s no indication that this will be in the 7.1.2 update.
The update is also said to include a possible fix for a glitch that allows access to certain apps from the lockscreen when a passcode is set as we showed you earlier this month.
iOS 7.1 was released earlier this year on March 10, 2014, while iOS 7.1.1 was released on April 22, 2014.
The build is reportedly in the hands of carriers for approval now, and could be released to the public by June 27th.