“Yesterday, Apple began a small press push on its new iBeacon technology, pushed an Apple Store app update to support them and turned the feature on in 254 U.S. based stores in an initial rollout,” Matthew Panzarino reports for TechCrunch. “According to the details we know so far, some Apple stores may have as many as 20 iBeacons deployed, depending on the size… Most of the coverage of iBeacons so far has failed to recognize a very important reality of this system: every iOS device since the iPhone 4S and iPad 3rd gen is already capable of being either an iBeacon receiver or transmitter, as long as it’s properly configured.”

“Yes, there are separate devices like Estimote’s beacons that can use Bluetooth LE protocols to act as a beacon, and Apple is using separate, specialized iBeacon devices that look like small silver rectangles tucked under shelves in some stores. But some of the iBeacons deployed in Apple stores are not specialized hardware at all, they’re just regular iPads or iPhones that have been configured as iBeacons,” Panzarino reports. “According to estimates by Creative Strategies Analyst and Techpinions columnist Ben Bajarin, an estimated 170-190 million iOS devices are currently capable of being iBeacons — that is they have the right hardware and are running iOS 7. That number could swell to 250M if holiday sales of iPhones and iPads are strong.”

Panzarino reports, “This will be the next big frontier for indoor mapping and retail, and Apple has an enormous — possibly insurmountable — head start because of how forward-thinking it was with Bluetooth LE hardware… Apple, by rolling out hundreds of millions of units capable of being both users and active transmitters, has positioned itself to be the de-facto standard… This isn’t Apple rolling out beacons in a few of its stores. It’s Apple rolling out potential beacons in every store that has an iPad — and there are hundreds of thousands already out there. Now, when a retailer makes a decision about tablet kiosks or signage, they’ve got the incentive of a hyperlocal advertising or customer service system built right in. Lest we forget about Apple being a hardware company: this is going to end up selling an absolute ton of iPads.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple’s Next Big Thing™ arrived in stealth mode right under everybody’s noses.

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