A few weeks ago we’ve been introduced to Apple iBeacon.
As it is still fairly new and not that well-known, we thought we’d give you a quick overview.
Apple iBeacon – 5 things you should know and how it is going to change your life.
What is Apple iBeacon?
We believe the best way to describe Apple iBeacon as ‘a new proximity system that allows for interaction when a user is within a certain distance’. Apple mentions the following on their developer page. ‘From welcoming people as they arrive at a sporting event to providing information about a nearby museum exhibit, iBeacon opens a new world of possibilities for location awareness, and countless opportunities for interactivity between iOS devices and iBeacon hardware.’
The underlying technology is BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy), a wireless personal network. It’s very comparable with traditional Bluetooth and it has roughly the same radius.
What is Apple iBeacon, really?
Imagine you’re going on holiday. You are quite keen on new technology so you have installed the app of the hotel where you are staying. Just when you are about to step through the front door, your app sends you notification saying ‘Welcome John, we hope you have an enjoyable stay with us. We currently offer a 25% discount in our spa – tap here if you would like to find out more.’
You’re probably (pleasantly) surprised – how did the app know you are at the hotel? Well this is because the hotel has an iBeacon device somewhere near the entrance, that will send you a notification every time you are within a certain proximity.
So what Apple iBeacon does in essence, is send you location-related information every time you get close. The above is one example, but it can be used in so many different ways. Both commercial and non-commercial.
You walk past a shop and you get a notification of a sale being on today. You go to an event and you get a notification with the event’s full schedule and floor plan. You walk past a bar and you get a notification of their daily special. Hell, Virgin Atlantic is even experimenting with having your boarding pass appear on your phone as soon as you get close to customs!
Why have I only read about it now?
Probably because Apple has only really introduced this technology a few months ago. The first baby steps of the launch were at the end of 2013, and there are only a few big brands that are running tests with Apple. If you’re sitting on the edge of your chair whilst reading this article, you probably want to head over to Virgin Atlantic, Waitrose and Tesco – these are some of the early adopters who are testing the technology and asses whether it’s scalable to a bigger purpose.
I very much enjoy private time with my iPhone, does Apple iBeacon mean I will be getting promotions and offers on my phone every 2 seconds?
Not really. Not unless you have all the apps in the world installed that will eventually correspond with the technology, and at the same time you happen to be in a big shopping centre in which every store has Apple iBeacons installed. Which is unlikely.
One condition is that you actually need to have the specific app installed and that you need to allow for push notifications. This way you can select which information you find useful and which information you don’t.
Ok sounds cool – what else can it do?
Well, as we mentioned earlier the technology is still in early stages. We recently met with a company that is developing iBeacon technology in combination with Apple Passbook. At the moment, the Passbook functionality on iPhones is not being used much at all.
However, with the new iOS 8 you will been introduced to Apple Pay. This is where we think mobile marketing is reaching a new level. This would allow for marketers to have people walk past a shop, getting a notification on your phone for a deal going on, and having the ability to pay straight from your phone via Apple Pay.
So in a nutshell – yes Apple iBeacon technology on a big scale may still be a year or two away, but given how fast technology has grown over the last few years we can definitely see apple iBeacon making a huge impact in mobile marketing.
What do you think about Apple iBeacon technology? Friend or foe?
We would love to hear what you think, so get in touch – or share on Facebook and Twitter.