Apple's iBeacon, an indoor positioning system that uses the latest version of Bluetooth, holds much promise for mobile advertising and location-based marketing. Here's how retailers and brands can develop a strategy to benefit from this technology.
The marketing world has an ironic history of underestimating Apple – remember people dismissing the iPad as nothing more than an overgrown iPod touch? So it's no surprise that there hasn't been more fanfare over the iBeacon.
Apple didn't go out of the way to play up iBeacon in the last World Wide Developer Conference but anyone who's struggled with mobile advertising strategy in general and location–based marketing in particular could see its potential from the start. Now that it is here, it promises to be one of the most promising Apple innovations since the iPad.
The actual debut of iBeacon was also relatively low-key; 254 U.S. Apple stores quietly rolled out the technology this past December. Retailer programs followed soon after and have generated a bit more attention, with app developer InMarket bringing it to 200+ Safeway and Giant Eagle grocery stores across the U.S. and Shopkick announcing a 100+ store program for American Eagle soon after.
Before long, we'll probably be hearing some metrics about these initiatives but for now, industry awareness of what iBeacon really is and why it holds so much promise remains quite low. For the uninitiated, here's what it's all about.