Last week Apple rolled out their iBeacon technology across all of its retail stores. If you haven’t heard about iBeacon, it is a basically a tiny bluetooth transmitter that pushes notifications to your mobile devices when you are within its range. Apple is currently using it to push store discounts, a way for you to check the upgrade eligibility for your phone, and as a way for you to make purchases on your mobile device in store without having to have an Apple genius (Apple’s store clerks) do it for you.
Touted by many journalists as the NFC killer, I think iBeacon is more of a QR code killer. Below are some things that the iBeacon can do that the QR code can’t.
1. Never miss a discount – With QR codes, companies had to rely on the customer to take out their smart phone and scan their QR codes to take them to a deal or discount. I even came across a QR code that rested on a large ad banner that was impossible to scan above an entrance gate at a train station in Taiwan. With iBeacon, customers will never miss a discount again. Macy’s and an app company called Shopkick have recently teamed up to launch iBeacon technology in select Macy’s as a test to push store discounts.
2. They are invisible – QR codes are kind of an eye sore. They take up valuable ad space and they don’t do anything except muck up a creative ad that a graphic designer slaved over. With iBeacon the technology is practically invisible. You don’t know something is there until you are within its range. You still have to allow companies to push notifications to your phone, but once you do that there is no further action you need to take. It’s like getting a surprise message every now and then.
3. Its an indoor GPS – iBeacon uses bluetooth low energy (BLE) or also known as Bluetooth 4.0 which is available on any iOS device after the iPhone 4S including tablets and the touch. It’s also on Android 4.3 or later. iBeacon can detect how far you are in relation to its transmission from 2 inches up to 160 feet. This means that museums could guide you on a personal tour through its showcase and give you a historical synopsis of the piece of art you are looking at.
4. It’s a Disruptor – QR codes are in its maturity. Most of the companies out there now have probably heard of QR codes…what it is, what it does, and how they can use it to leverage their objectives. iBeacon technology on the other hand is now the new kid on the block and it is in infancy. Imagine it one day being able to know that you are sitting on your couch and knows that you are typically watching TV and launches your TV remote app. Imagine it being a companion to other developing technologies like iPhone 5s’s fingerprint scanner and never having to wait at any cash registers again as you are able to add things into your shopping on the go and check out when you are done.
5. (Yes, I know I said 4 reasons but this is a bonus) What if you could one day purchase a meal to go, step foot in the restaurant to pick it up, and iBeacon automatically throws up a QR code as a discount for the restaurant owner to scan and discount? #WorldsCollide #Mindblown
What does this all mean for the marketer? The gap between online and offline marketing are closing in. iBeacon is a welcomed advancement that marketing analysts can add to their toolbox to tie their offline and online efforts.
Now it is your turn to tell me what you think. How would you leverage iBeacon technology?