January 8, 2015

What is iBeacon and how do you use it?

January 8, 2015

What is iBeacon and how do you use it?

B2B Sales

By Rob Montgomery, Strategy Exec at Step Change Marketing

We're an agency that builds marketing strategies for companies all around Australia and marketing directors are always asking, "what's next in marketing?" But knowing first isn't enough - for those that are early adopters of a new marketing technology, the return on investment for that business in PR alone can be astronomical.

So in this post, we explore an upcoming technology for marketers that will soon be everywhere. Ask us if you'd like a hand in being first.

What is iBeacon?

iBeacon is a way for Apple to use Bluetooth low-energy wireless technology to transfer information and services to iOS devices like the iPhone. It is location-based communication, which means information transfer becomes possible when you and your iPhone are within a certain range of the small Bluetooth transmitters Apple calls beacons.

What can iBeacon do?

Importantly, for an iBeacon to be able to send your phone a notification you have to meet one of two criteria. You either need to have an app on your phone that is linked to a nearby beacon or you need to have added a relevant pass to your iPhone's Passbook.

Imagine that you visit an art gallery, if you have the art gallery's app on your phone,iBeacon could map your progress around the gallery and deliver your phone information about the artworks you are near.

In a retail environment, if you have the store's app, then as you browse around the store, beacons could send you special offers on products as you pass them.

For a more detailed explanation of iBeacon uses have a look at this video made by beacon manufacturer Estimote.

Is iBeacon useful?

If you're a business wanting to embrace the future of technology, then you may be wondering how you could use iBeacon. Well unfortunately, as it stands now, unless your company has an extremely popular app then you won't be able to reach many people using beacons. Companies like retail banks, airlines and telcos that already have high uptake rates of their apps are in the best position to make use of the technology.

Additionally, users must have the Bluetooth function of their phone turned on even if they do have a relevant app.

Although, there are certainly some limitations to how useful iBeacon can be, it is a technology to watch out for as a possible platform for mobile payment systems.

Currently, iBeacon is more about possibility than implementation; it's something to keep an eye on. If you're in business, then the goal is to be agile enough to pounce on this type of technology when the right development comes along.

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