According to the Associated Press, Apple began deploy iBeacon technology in 254 of their U.S. stores today. iBeacon allows Apple to track customers who in their stores, provided the customer has authorized tracking and have downloaded the Apple Store app. The next time you walk by an iPhone counter at an Apple Store, iBeacon technology could be used to send you a message regarding an upgrade. The technology can also be used to alert customers of a product becoming available for pickup or a Genius bar appointment.
There are countless uses of the technology and it will presumably take time for Apple to dial it in to where it works for customers and Apple. Customers must authorize tracking, but still might find the practice to be ‘creepy’. The Apple Store on 5th Avenue in NYC has 20 iBeacon transmitters installed. The most interesting part of this technology is how they can be adjusted for a certain range, using low-power Bluetooth to exact your location. It creates a more useful application in indoor environments, providing for a clear advantage over GPS.
Earlier this week, a London based company showcased how iBeacon technology was being used to deliver free magazine subscriptions targeted to customers of a venue. Customers who visit Bar Kick in London are being offered access to the soccer magazine ‘When Saturday Comes’. Major League Baseball has big plans for iBeacon this upcoming season, using it to offer fans special features that include coupons for a souvenir shop or a video that plays near a landmark, providing for a more interactive experience.
Apple will likely use iBeacon for both service and sales. Many retailers will look at how this application works and whether it results in an improved shopping experience.
The Apple Store app (free) is available for download from the App Store.
If you swing by an Apple Store in the coming days and weeks, be sure to come back and comment on how iBeacon might have impacted your shopping experience.