Marketing

Here’s what Apple’s iBeacon really is & why it’s going to change everything

Above: iBeacon in action at a Timberland store

Image Credit: Swirl

Using Bluetooth to send ads between nearby devices sounds both boring and annoying. But that’s exactly what Apple’s iBeacon does — and Apple’s not in the boring-and-annoying business.

The ubiquitous iBeacon is Apple’s portable, low-cost transmitter that notifies other iOS 7 devices of its presence. iBeacon has won raves because of its low power signatures and rapidity of sending push notifications to Apple hardware like the iPhone, iPad, and even iPods.

While Android OS’s can receive adverts from iBeacons, they can’t transmit them. With Apple adding souped-up attribution features in iOS 7.1 recently, the word on the street is that Apple will harness the full spectrum of their power in the mobile ad space.

Chris Damron, chief innovation officer of proximity-based marketing shop BeaconStream, is currently using iBeacon to help small and medium businesses navigate the mobile targeting aspect of their companies.

With the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) opening Monday in San Francisco, Damron laid it out while he fervently believes in iBeacon, and why it will be huge for Apple.

Why iBeacon will be a major strategy in Apple’s grand plan

Unlike Near Field Communication (NFC), iBeacon has more proximity coverage, is more affordable, and requires less power.

Apple implemented this solution by using a mix of iOS and Bluetooth Low Energy devices to serve its customers at stores. iBeacons can transmit data in the absence of a GPS, Wi-Fi, or a 3G connection. Apple is looking for the next big thing, and iBeacon allows for communications in remote places like malls, mines, cruises, etc. In the current version of iOS 7, Apple enabled and implemented iBeacon technology in all of its devices, thus setting the stage for widespread use.

The impact iBeacon will have on consumers, businesses, & retailers

The impact iBeacon will have on consumers is enormous in that people will have access to information, deals, videos, and electronic coupons that are relevant to their specific interests, all in real time. No more coupons from retailers that don’t apply to their needs.

Businesses and retailers will be impacted by the fact that they will now have a direct line to their customers, drawing them to their location, as well as enticing them to buy additional items while still in the store. iBeacon will allow businesses to attach digital content to everything in the physical store.

The future is iBeacon. Here’s where to expect it

Rumors are flying that there will soon be a $1 beacon, allowing businesses of any size to use this technology and allowing companies to have multiple touch points with customers. This will change the entire product supply chain with deep analytics that can track inventory and customer needs.

iBeacon as you see it today is just the initial offering. The uses are endless, and we expect to see it combined with other applications that exist in the marketplace today. Combining iBeacon technology with point-of-sale will provide consumers with a shopping experience that is fast and easy and that fulfills both the consumer’s and retailer’s needs.

Ka-ching!


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54 comments
Alex Wakeman
Alex Wakeman

 "iBeacons can transmit data in the absence of a GPS..." 


GPS is not a means of communicating, for anyone, anywhere.... maybe you mean GPRS? Or EDGE, 3G, 4G etc.

Gunnar Forsgren
Gunnar Forsgren

The good thing about this new technology is that society will "tip over" to using it. Technology has existed earlier to send out identity signals but Bluetooth Low Energy does it cheaper with quick detection and lots of phones will support it. It goes with the flow and becomes a part of the infrastructure whilst before there were a hole range of irritating issues that meant any solution like this did not get out of the starting blocks.

Joshua Newnham
Joshua Newnham

Haven't read all the comments so maybe this has already been addressed - but just to clarify; iBeacon is a broadcast profile for BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) - it contains nothing more than an identify and a couple more flags that can be used to better inform the receiver (Major and Minor). It cannot transmit content, cannot create connections, is not aware of anything. If a device registers to listen for that specific identifier (or all BLE advertisements) then a receiving app can initiate some action but only if the app is installed and given access by the user. 

Ben Lymbery
Ben Lymbery

Wow, so many Apple haters among you. Poor Apple haters. Must be hard for them having so many things to hate.

Ken Leamen
Ken Leamen

Every article I've read so far from you guys today is pro apple. Time to unfollow since every story is skewed with bias and go figure it's all around the same time apple releases it's next android update. ..ooops I mean ios update.

Scott Lightner
Scott Lightner

Searched the piece for the word, 'off'... meh! :/

Damon Mackey
Damon Mackey

That was a lot of words without saying anything specific...like what does it do

Rainer R.
Rainer R.

This is something media2max is doing already since years (sending infos via bluetooth, nfc, bluetooth low energy (so cold ibeacon) .. but sending via bluetooth and not via internet, where the endcustomer has some costs ..

Catherine Weir
Catherine Weir

This going to change nothing. Apple should focus on fixing it's aging OS and address security  issues,  instead of inventing new gimmicks.  

disco bob
disco bob

Old tech, and still a apple only solution, STFU apples you can have them all in your basket. Over Wi-Fi internet or not, can do a lot more than this including real time conversations, live support and help in store and a boat load more ... pah move on over and hurry up with loosing more off your share price.

Carlo Capello
Carlo Capello

All is still so new with so much confusion about beacon, iBeacon, BTLE, ... At least one thing is clear to me: not only Bluetooth is not dead - as many tech gurus used to forecast - but it's going to be the new proximity spigot as GPS has been for location. 

Gary Miller
Gary Miller

With one touch I can hide all posts from Venture beat, great! How many people will do the same with ads on iBeacon ?

Joel Reyna
Joel Reyna

iBeacon is going to change the galaxy........

Joel Reyna
Joel Reyna

It's going to make earth a better place to live.

Valar Morghulis
Valar Morghulis

Sorry...a Little late for them changing the world. It's a technology that's been around and still hasn't revolutionized anything yet. Man...hate them apple lovers. Dimwitted and shortsighted.

Josh Kim
Josh Kim

i beg to differ. not revolutionary

Peter Day
Peter Day

When I read "change everything" I thought it might be renewable energy that we so desperately need to avoid the earth turning to shit through climate change, but actually it's just something that's going to help companies sell more shit. The last thing we need. People are doing really well at buying tons of shit already.

Dallas Literal Johnston
Dallas Literal Johnston

Either you are being sarcastic, or you are one of the poor Silicon Valley chumps that suffer from what I call the recent phenomenon of "Founder's delusion." Everyone has an idea that is going to change the world, right? Now please write me a check for $3B, as my app Sizer lets men and women send potential mates ephemeral snaps of their junk with machine learning, big data-derived probabilistic models of suitability for their every coital need. We even have an app called Mater in the pipeline that will use this data to suggest partners in your local vicinity via iBeacon, which we affectionately call iPheromone.

Thin Gorilla
Thin Gorilla

Soooo, you don't think that everytime I'm taking a stroll, my phone beeping to tell me some crap is on sale when im not out shopping won't be annoying?

Lisa Kennewell
Lisa Kennewell

So much nothing. wtf does it do? No examples and I can't see what's so exciting about NFC. it's not news and it's not going to change my world. Don't they remember Four Square also offered this 5 years ago.

Bruno M. Kebran
Bruno M. Kebran

When did you become blah blah blah changing the world new? I thought that was Business Insider's specialty. .before you craze people with your cherry picks, why not explain that beacon is a connectivity technology that allows networks to stay connected in otherwise connect challenged environment? Apple didn't invent it they just are trying to give their devices a little bang...ads..are just an additional not the goal

Dave Meeker
Dave Meeker

It is opt in. It's completely different than NFC. I wonder if anyone read the article.

Keith Robinson
Keith Robinson

This has to be the most poorly written article I've read in years.

King Yiu Chu
King Yiu Chu

It's success depends on the app which receives the messages. If a user cannot manage his permission settings and this is not opt-in, it will be a big failure.

Andy Gowrley
Andy Gowrley

In the UK NFC seems to be everywhere from pay terminals, poster adverts, transportation systems, door passes, vending machines, printers. In the US IOS has a high pentration but elsewhere not so high. What about the countries where Android and Windows even blackberry phones make up a bigger percentage of the user base. So will Apple pay for all these companies to install the devices needed worldwide? This sounds like a cdma v gsm sim phones. Bluetooth adverts/notifications have been touted at least in the UK since the days of Nokia and Ericsson phones ie early noughties at least. Paying by nfc is something many people see the use for and benefits, being sent adverts not so sure..

Ryan A
Ryan A

Yet another way for North Americans to dig themselves further into debt by making impulse buying easier. Good job corporate America 

Quanye East
Quanye East

I doubt this would change the world when android devices can not do the same with this technology

Jullian Chavez
Jullian Chavez

This is the most annoying technology idea possible. Why would I want more advertisements? Why would I want them pushed right to my phone?

Shannon Patrick Ramos
Shannon Patrick Ramos

Reminds me of Mike Judge's Silicon Valley, the guy who pitches the app that helps you remember where you parked...yes this also sounds "other than useful" I'm only really surprised when big money is behind new technologies that are not flipping commercials...

Adam Beckett
Adam Beckett

Unlike common Apple fans belives, over 5 or is it 6 billion people don't use iPhones. Look it up. World changes at different pace for different people?

Sohrob Tahmasebi
Sohrob Tahmasebi

There's a lot of cool and imaginative ways to apply iBeacon besides just advertisements.

Jeremy smid
Jeremy smid

@Ryan A God forbid people be accountable for their own actions. No, instead let's blame corporate America for forcing us to buy things. Down with capitalism!