Apple iBeacon: Launching an Era

And we’re off. Today, Apple launched its iBeacon technology at all of its US stores and with it has created the equivalent of a giant nationwide product demo for Bluetooth LE technology.

Moving beyond, say, what Macy’s is doing with pushing specials and offers to customers as they shop, Apple has integrated iBeacon technology into the entirety of its in-store experience, from payment to booking an appointment at the Genius Bar.

The Associated Press took a tour of the new ‘beaconized’ store in New York (the famous glass cube one that sits just below Central Park) and reports that the experience helps to tailor your shopping experience, noting that with the beacons in place Apple can:

“…send you messages about products, events and other information – tailored to where you are inside, provided you have downloaded the Apple Store app and have given Apple permission to track you. Using the iBeacon feature, the app will notify you if the computer you ordered is ready to be picked up, for example. Show a clerk your screen with the order number, and the clerk will get it for you. Walking by an iPhone table? You may get a message asking if you want to upgrade, check your upgrade availability and see if you can get money for trading in your old phone.”

But Apple isn’t just highlighting its ability to sell more product, or to make the in-store experience more engaging. It’s clearly aiming for a wider market, one in which all retailers start to take advantage of Bluetooth Low Energy beacons:

The implications go beyond Apple stores. One day, commuters might get information on subway delays as they stand on the platform, while museum visitors might get details on the painting they are standing in front of. Other retailers, of course, will be also able to offer special deals or track which aisle shoppers spend the most time at….Apple’s entry into micro-location puts the nascent technology into the hands of thousands of developers and broadens its reach considerably.

With today’s launch of iBeacon at Apple stores, we’re seeing the first steps on their march to not just take a bigger share of your wallet – but to BE your wallet. Today New York – tomorrow everywhere.

Welcome to the brave new world of beacons.

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