Samsung Makes Its Move: Beacons for Android, No App Required

samsung placedge beacon

Samsung will launch the Samsung Placedge Platform at their developer’s conference tomorrow, and with it will cut out the need for a brand to have its own app to detect beacons. Instead, Samsung will provide a sort of uber-application that sits at the device layer, detecting a shared registry of beacons and pushing messages via a shared service.

They also invite developers to create their own apps using the Samsung tools. This makes it possible to both push messages through the Samsung app and reach them again through your own app. The appeal to brands might be irresistible – allowing them to reach consumers who BOTH have AND don’t have an app.

The move by Samsung helps to reinforce that beacons aren’t an Apple-only thing. And it highlights the competition for access to the engagements that happen in place.

Samsung has staked its own territory with Placedge – bypassing the individual retailer or brand app and providing a “uber service app”, giving retailers a full suite of tools to manage campaigns and beacons.

The Placedge website promotes simplicity:

Once the Proximity Service app is installed, dynamic and relevant information and coupons will be pushed to the user’s phone. By leveraging various features provided by the Samsung Proximity Platform, partners can create highly-targeted marketing campaigns to generate more foot traffic and sales.

The platform won’t look dissimilar to the dozens of beacon campaign systems on the market today, from Lighthouse to LocalSocial. But Samsung is taking things a step further by building its own proximity layer and user experience – potentially in conflict with patents held by Apple.

It’s Time for Android

While Bluetooth beacons have become synonymous with the Apple iBeacon brand, the devices are based on the open Bluetooth standard and Android phones with KitKat or higher have been able to detect beacons.

Beacon detection through standards like Radius Networks and its AltBeacon open specification allows app developers to create proximity-based experiences. Deploy a few beacons in your location and both Android and Apple apps can respond to the devices.

But with both platforms you still need an app. And while beacons make proximity experiences possible, they don’t on their own deliver content, coupons or interactions. You still need an app for that, and you usually need a cloud-based content and campaign management system to get it all to work.

There’s No App for That

Samsung has decided to supplement the app layer by building its own. Sitting on the level of the phone, it provides retailers and brands direct access to consumers and provides a suite of campaign, push message and coupon delivery tools.

In other words, the company has decided to try to own a good chunk of the middle layer between the beacon and the consumer…and will give companies like Urban Airship (which has made a big push into beacons, including through a partnership with Gimbal) a run for their money related to push messages.

Samsung is announcing that its doors are open for partnerships:

‘The Samsung Proximity Partnership Program provides an opportunity for partners to configure and deploy an effective location-based marketing campaign. Samsung would like to support you to make a successful story All you need to do is to register to our proximity service partnership program, and then we will provide the full end-to-end solution.  In order to get started, join the Proximity Service’s Web Console with Samsung account. We will verify your account and give you a company code, and you will be ready to go!”

Yet by bypassing the app layer, Samsung is providing brands and developers a way to reach consumers who don’t have your app installed.

They offer developers tools to build on top of this experience, although details remain to be released, with Samsung inviting developers to “Build an app using the Proximity Platform to drive more mobile traffic to your app.”

By building its own infrastructure, Samsung also seems to be making a play for the digital wallet,  setting the stage for a showdown with Apple Pay.

You’ll Still Need a Beacon

Samsung has seemingly announced support for “your own beacons” but highlights four companies on its website. No details have yet been released on the configuration requirements for the beacons – whether they have specific requirements for ad intervals or packets, security layers or other features.

Our personal preference has always been Radius Networks if you want something out of the box and ready-to-roll – their work on Android frameworks has always been light years ahead of the industry.

In fact, the company is immediately launching a Placedge-ready beacon and developer kit – so there’s no need to wait, just jump right in and get started:

The Beacon Developer Kit for Samsung Placedge is an early-access kit featuring a proximity beacon for use in development and testing with the Samsung’s mobile proximity platform. This developer kit contains a pre-configured Bluetooth Smart™ beacons implemented in a tiny USB package that can be powered by any available USB power source.

The Early-Access program provides developers access to hardware proximity beacons that are compatible with the Samsung Placedge platform. Users of the kit should recognize that the features, functions and capabilities of beacons that work with the Samsung Placedge platform are subject to change and likely to change during the Early-Access period.

Apple/Samsung Showdown?

Apple made its earliest bets on developers. Whether they continue to let beacons live ONLY at the app layer remains to be seen. With Apple Pay, it won’t take much for them to create a new device-level layer for beacon-detection and payments and to allow developers and apps to tap into that larger ecosystem.

They also have a strong patent portfolio around retail-driven experiences with beacons, and their decision on whether to exercise that portfolio will be an interesting sign of whether the Apple/Samsung patent wars of years past are truly behind us.

But Samsung has made its bet: forget the app, forget beacon campaign management systems – bypass all that and go direct to the consumer with Samsung. Reach consumers who don’t have your app – and (possibly) then migrate them into your own experience, using the Samsung tools and SDK.

How open the system will be to creating experiences AROUND Placedge, how the beacon notices on the Samsung app layer can trigger engagement with a brand’s own app, and how this will be received in the halls of Cupertino are still to be determined.

We’ll learn more at the Samsung Developer’s Conference and in the weeks ahead.

But for now it’s game on. Welcome to the world of beacons, Samsung. Now let’s see how app developers, beacon management companies….and the consumer respond.

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What do you think of Samsung’s move? How will it play out in the “becosystem”? How will consumers respond to a sort of “uber app” for beacon coupons and messages? Drop a comment below.

20 Responses to “Samsung Makes Its Move: Beacons for Android, No App Required”

  1. Hugh Billingsley

    one would assume then that this will only work on Samsung devices, correct…or will it be built into future operating systems?

    Reply
  2. David Lerner

    “Need an App” equals choice – you get to choose who’s beacons send you messages. Does this simply move control of what beacon messages you get from the user to Samsung?

    Reply
  3. Assumedly they will release an SDK to enable this at the app level to reach the majority of devices that aren’t Samsung (Android and iOS) and then just offer an enhanced experience on Samsung. But who would want to develop two different user experiences vs. just having everything at the app level? Seems like a non-starter to me, especially this early in the game.

    Maybe there’s a completely new usage model based on email-like ubiquitous access to users’ devices in venue… but given that we’re a few decades into email and still nobody has figured out how to make that manageable, I can’t image this sort of free-form access working either.

    Plus, they’ve moved so far up the stack so quickly that they’re not going to be build a software ecosystem.

    Overall, seems like a very twee move for such a giant.

    Reply
  4. this will fail bad.
    Samsung market share is not so big. will need new phones for this. developers will screw this because we have our own services that already work the way we want and we are payed for. and “clients” will not do this because they will not do proximity tool for samsung users only.

    Reply
  5. If it was google this could be huge , but Samsung? meh. And they can’t just push notifications without apps, it will ruin user’s privacy.
    Not a good plan for samsung I think overall

    Reply
  6. viertelpfundgehacktes

    It’s time for an open standard. Not Apple, nor samsung etc. Times of closed or walledgarden somethings-superduper was yesterday. wake up! The apple “standard”, which is not well elaborated, lacks so much. Wait for “until apple have compatability”. god, please help!

    Reply
  7. It’s interesting to see how Samsung has tried to eliminate the need for an app, one of the major hurdles faced by brands when it comes to leveraging beacons, using its Proximity Marketing Platform. While this move also comes with a few cons of its own, such as brands might not be interested in adopting a proximity tool that works with Samsung users alone, it does signify another very important fact – Android is fast catching up with beacons. Adding on to that Radius Networks recently released AltBeacon, an open specification that will go a long way in bringing parity to beacon development by providing developers with a new suite of tools and references that make it easier to develop apps that “listen” for beacons. Adding on to this, Apple’s iBeacon framework were found to actually perform better with Android especially when it comes to battery life, according to a recent report by Aiselabs. Given these two facts, beacons are currently poised to really break out among android devices. We have discussed 3 reasons why Android is fast emerging as the next hot platform for beacons here:
    http://blog.mobstac.com/2015/02/how-android-is-catching-up-with-beacons/

    Reply
  8. Marc Lévesque

    iSign Media’s technology does not need an app. Symbol is ISD on TSX. Great time to buy.

    Reply
  9. Wasim Ahmad

    It would be better if Google and Apple provide a built in generic application for beacons. Which can interact with beacon installed everywhere, and also developers can edit and manipulate that app.

    Reply
  10. Why do they need all our contact info, pictures and go in all our personal information on our phones. I don’t like it.

    Reply
  11. Teresa smith

    I have been told that Beacons make it easier for someone to hack into phone. Is this true?

    Reply
  12. Is there some work done for other OS to detect beacons without downloading the app?

    Reply
  13. I don’t understand why this is added to my phone without my permission. I have to pay for the phone. Then you’ll decide to tell me what to do with it. I just want to be able to disable it because I don’t want it taking up memory in my phone!

    Reply

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