iBeacons are awesome.
iBeacon is the Apple Trademark for an indoor positioning system that Apple calls “a new class of low-powered, low-cost transmitters that can notify nearby iOS 7 devices of their presence.” They can also be used by the Android operating system (limited to central-only). The technology enables an iOS device or other hardware to send push notifications to iOS devices in close proximity. It’s freaking brilliant. Many companies like one of my favorites Estimote are making great strides in delivering on the promise of iBeacons.
Even though they are brilliant, cool and extremely useful there is still some fear and concern about how they will be sued and what the benefits are to the average consumer. Thoughts of “big Brother” spying on us as we traipse around our increasingly mobile device reliant lives strike worry into our hearts. What if they spy on me? What if they know where I am and use that against me?
Too late, they already know all that and far more. The battle is over, mobile won.
Most of us already carry our smart phone everywhere we go. It is literally the first thing we touch in the morning (54% of Americans touch their Smartphone before touching their spouse) and the last thing we snuggle at night. It is an incredibly useful tool. If you make a bad decision when shopping you are simply lazy. We all carry a supercomputer in our pocket that can give you all the information you need to make most any purchase decision.
IBeacons is a very simple technology that enables a wonderful array of new location specific features that can be made available to anyone with a smart phone. GPS is supremely useful when you are outdoors.
Not to belabor the obvious but us smartphone-toting humans spend most of our time indoors.
That’s where iBeacons comes in. Think of it like indoor micro focused GPS. There are hundreds of cool ideas to make it rock and help make our lives a little easier (and of course marketers jobs easier too) but whats fascinating is the push and pull on each side of the argument about whether technology like this will steal your soul or save your life. Oh how we love our line in the sand ultimatums with any new technology.
I for one am a HUGE fan of iBeacons and the awesomeness that they have the potential to deliver. Using them is fully optional and you will not be bombarded by marketing messages. You have to opt-in to each one. But the benefits will be huge and the market will drive a massive amount of change and goodness. And apparently I’m not the only one who think this as New research shows that 45% of mobile consumers are willing to receive retailer messages via beacon technology.
So what do you think? Are iBeacons the next great nirvana in mobile, social and local or a sure sign that the aliens have landed and Big Brother is watching our every move?
This is Wojtek Borowicz, a community evangelist at Estimote.
Glad to see that you like us and the idea behind iBeacon! And it’s good that you’ve mentioned privacy. It’s super important issue and has to be emphasized. Both Beacon vendors and people building apps and services based on that technology have to keep it mind, especially now, when it’s such a hot topic 🙂
I agree Wojtek, Love what you guys are doing and am convinced that the privacy/security issues will be solved well.
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