Apple could have 250 million iBeacon-capable units in the wild by 2014

“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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Apple turns on iBeacon to guide shoppers at 254 U.S. retail stores – December 6, 2013
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Macy’s becomes first retailer to deploy Apple’s iBeacon for in-store presence – November 20, 2013
Beyond retail: What’s next for indoor location tracking with Apple’s iBeacon – November 15, 2013
Apple’s location-tracking iBeacon is poised to explode across retail faster than anyone can imagine – October 25, 2013
Attention, retailers: With iBeacon, Apple has figured out mobile marketing – October 11, 2013
Apple’s iBeacon to deliver completely interactive experiences for fans at MLB stadiums – September 27, 2013
Apple’s amazing iOS 7: Three game-changers hidden in plain sight – September 26, 2013
Apple’s brilliant iBeacons system will enable purchases, contextual marketing, automated check-ins and much more – September 14, 2013
Apple’s NFC killer: iOS 7′s iBeacons – September 11, 2013
iBeacons may prove to be Apple’s biggest new feature for iOS 7 – August 29, 2013
Apple v. Android: Bang per watt – Apple’s massive advantage – August 13, 2013

24 Comments

  1. Well, that’s that for me. I’ll be turning off bluetooth or using airplane mode in stores. The last thing I want is to be “followed” around a store with my phone beeping every 2 min. The old way of hanging an in store coupon was fine and if I need to know about upgrades and what not I would rather have an actual person come and talk to me, or look it up online.

    This is one step too far for me. Too intrusive.

    1. Before iBeacon was implemented, if your cellphone was active, I’m sure the cell towers know your approximate location. Given the circumstances involved and if a crime were committed, I’m sure the authorities might be able to prove where you were at any given time. So “we’ve” been followed around for quite some time now. 😉

      1. Agreed. But a few I’m sures and cell towers and what not are nothing like this. Completely different. This will be used to show adds for things that aren’t selling well and for lots of other nefarious uses too. This is a tech that’s not really needed for the consumer but very welcomed by the retailers and as such I can’t help but feel a bit like a sucker for giving up yet more personal info, and yes I consider precise location personal, so that retailers can have more info on us so they can try and sell us more.

        I see this as a tech for stores,sales and sales people and yet its being “sold” to us as if its a cool thing for us. I don’t see it that way. I’m tired of companies wanting my personal info for little pluses.

        1. If you want privacy, leave your phone home or turned off as you said. Don’t buy products online, go to the store and use cash. This also minimizes your exposure to people that want your information. If you live in a country that has cameras at every corner, or stores that use security cameras to prevent shoplifting, move to a country that doesn’t use cameras. Society has evolved and technology has been implemented to deal with “our” new social behaviors. “We” all have choices….. “we” just need to make them 😉

        2. There are many who feel threatened by new technology and fear its abuse. If in your mind, Apple has stood for this kind of misuse of technology on their customers, you should be scared and maybe even double the aluminum foil lining to all your hats.

          This technology is something that I have been advocating for 5 years and even spent $2000 back then to do a patent search. If customers want to opt in, they may be able to create a shopping list of items they are interested in and any store they go into that has those items could let them know about it while directing them to the area where they will find it. As you also pointed out, vendors who have excess inventory could move it it the iBeacon customer was open to ‘great deals’. Vendors could use aggregated shopping list information to ensure that they buy enough product to meet the demand. There is no end to the good that can come from this technology. Yes, there is the possibility of abuse too, but from Apple?

          1. Part of iBeacon is to SAVE customer’s time waiting or in line.

            1. If you preordered something: you’ll get a notification or “hello”
            2. If you have a genius bar appointment: they’ll know you are there.
            3. If you ordered a table at your favorite restaurant: They’ll know you arrived and beep you
            4. Your doctor, mechanic or similar will not need you to sign in, because by the time you stop your car, they will have your records up and ready.
            5. Your night out at the theater will “give” you your tickets as you walk through the door!
            6. Your web order @ BestBuy/Apple etc. will signal you & the service person when you enter the store.
            7. Extras, Specials, discounts, frequent customer benefits (like $s off) and such can be given to you as you enter the store.

            If you don’t want these time saving procedures, then turn the damned thing OFF!

        3. Given that you have to have an app that responds to or listens for the UUID that a given retailer has assigned to each beacon, you have additional control.

          A retailer/manufacturer would have to be stupid to flood you with ads you don’t want; they’ll be more subtle than that – in fact I’m working on a use case that would put all of the control in your hands as a consumer, although it would enable the retailer to draw down anonymised data that allows it to measure its performance in various ways.

          The key is that retailers and other data acquirers need to recognise that must observe conventions on privacy and should be prepared to offer you – the customer – something desirable – a streamlined check-in/check-out, priority on new product – in exchange for your anonymised data and something even more special in exchange for identifiable data such as lower pricing.

          1. “retailers … need to observe conventions on privacy … in exchange for your anonymised [sic] data”

            Hah! If you think retailers won’t be feeding raw (non-anonymized) data to the NSA (responding to quarterly FISA warrants or just plain old brow beating), I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

            1. If the NSA is looking specifically for you, you’ve got a half-life of freedom measured in hours. No amount of off-grid hiding will make any significant difference in how quickly they can apprehend you.

              iBeacon is just one more assistive technology to aid the NSA in filling out their profile of every human on the planet. If you think that’s not possible, the bridge is still for sale.

    2. iBeacons will be very useful for navigating inside buildings. Finding your checkin desk at a busy airport for instance GPS doesnt work indoors so iBeacons will be very useful there. Then there are sports stadiums, concert halls etc there are plenty of useful uses for iBeacons its just the start of their usefulness.

      1. Indeed this is great.

        You know what seat/s you have the minute you walk in the door and a map, whether for a concert, sport venue or your favorite restaurant and maybe even a choice of seats if you want to pick.

        It sure beats standing in line behind 6 people at the gal who runs the seating and missing the table you really want.

  2. There is a company in the UK developing BT hardware to receive data from BT-enabled devices in cars and with pedestrians for predicting traffic flow.
    I never have BT enabled on my phone and pad, so I have no issues with this technology at all. 😊

  3. another example why apple doesn’t need to bend knee to every other analyst and spell out their game plan or cower before the greedy likes of the world’s carl icahn lookalikes. besides, they’ve been burned before. of late was eric schmidt’s vile betrayal and the attempts of the insatiable tax hungry members of congress trying to demonize a great american success story. steve jobs, i think, understand this better than anyone when he left no cowards at the helm.

  4. “Most of the coverage of iBeacons so far has failed to recognize a very important reality of this system”

    … That 99 percent of iPhone users do not want to be pinged every 5 feet by greedy merchants’ lousy so-called “deals” and will simply turn this “Feature” off.

    1. Smart businesses of ALL types realize you can not insult or enrage their customers and potential customers with worthless crap or they simply will spend less or won’t come back.

      This has to be a boon for exhibits, galleries, conferences and club meetings where item lists are pushed out to people who come to these venues specifically to find information.

      1. AND, businesses will know who the shoplifters are!

        They are amongst the ones carrying cell phones which are turned off or have Bluetooth disabled.

        This is going to make the Security Director’s job easier.

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