Apple’s iBeacon technology, introduced earlier this year at WWDC, utilizes Bluetooth 4.0 found in newer iPhones to receive signals when they come within a certain range. Some of the initial reaction focused on how retailers could use this to inform users of sales and or promotions within a store. Today we’re hearing about Exact Editions (via TechCrunch), a company that is using iBeacons to deliver Newsstand content accessible free within certain locations, hoping it will pay off in increased digital magazine subscriptions.
ExactEditions ByPlace program allows publishers to specify locations whereby users can gain free access to their publications. Often the locations can be targeted to a specific audience. The company is showcasing it at Bar Kick in London, making the soccer magazine ‘When Saturday Comes’ and the fashion magazine ‘Dazed and Confused’ available to patrons with an iPhone running iOS 7 that supports low-energy Bluetooth.
This will certainly help with the awareness of content available in Newsstand, but more importantly for publishers, it could mean increased subscriptions. This is the first we’ve heard of publishers using iBeacon to offer free access to a publication that typically requires a subscription. Publishers could use the App Store to offer promotions, but those are not as targeted and lack the impact of providing targeted content.
While not the traditional retail pitch that many anticipated when we first heard of iBeacon technology, ultimately this application has the same goal in mind and that’s to increase sales. This particular instance seems to marry soccer fans to a soccer publication, in hopes the free trial ultimately results in increased paid subscriptions. This use of iBeacon offers consumers the benefit of free content, but it’s only a matter of time before we see a wider, retail-focused rollout of Apple’s iBeacon.