As Apple nears the launch of new iGadgets this week, perhaps iOS 8 and who knows what else, I thought it would be useful to look back at one of the hidden gems of iOS 7 that perhaps has not seen as much light of day as I expected. I’m referring to iBeacon – a set of transmitters that can transmit precise locations to iOS 7 devices like iPhones. The uses for this in a sector like retail leap right off a page at any reader. Imagine a coupon for milk getting texted to your phone, or pushed through a push-notification, right as you’re in front of the milk section. If you were wavering or about to pick one product, that action/offer might change your mind right then and there!
Business week writes about “Why Apple’s iBeacon Hasn’t Taken off – Yet” and notes that a lot of Fortune 500 companies are testing it including Macy’s, Hillshire and more, but have not deployed it in a meaningful way. In a world where consumers are used to scanning product barcodes with their smartphones and looking up prices on Amazon, eBay and other e-commerce sites, this is admittedly a bit puzzling. This author expects that we’ll see more adoption soon.
One success story with iBeacon is Major League Baseball (MLB). Business week writes that 28 of 30 ballparks have iBeacon, and fan check-ins have doubled with these, helping MLB push merchandise coupons, seat upgrades and more, and is now adding short-video segments on the history of the stadiums.
As always privacy, abuse of data collected by retailers and more are ethical issues that have to be worked through. But don’t be surprised to see contextually timed coupons and offers flash across your smartphone in the near future!