Apple’s iBeacon so far fails to ignite retail revolution, won’t be big this Black Friday either

“A survey conducted by Forrester earlier this year found that only 3 percent of retailers use beacons; just 16 percent had plans to try the technology in the foreseeable future,” Joshua Brustein reports for Bloomberg. “When Reveal Mobile, an analytics company, did a census of beacons in U.S. retail stores this spring, it found that Apple’s own stores accounted for about 15 percent of the existing beacons.”

“Companies that sell beacons and related services to retailers struggle to point to big success stories, even as boosters insist that the technology is on the verge of success. For the people who run startups such as Shopkick, InMarket, or Estimote, which are based on bets that beacons will soon be everywhere, the issue is more expectations than results,” Brustein reports. “‘They’re not ubiquitous yet, but they will be ubiquitous in a couple of years,’ said Todd DiPaola, chief executive officer of InMarket.”

“Part of the problem, in fact, might stem from Apple’s association with the public introduction of beacons. Steve Cheney, co-founder of Estimote, would prefer that everyone see Apple’s iBeacon effort as a mere developer protocol, not a finished product to transform shopping,” Brustein reports. “‘People — associating it with Apple — expected it to work out of the box, so to speak,’ he said. ‘It is happening at about the pace we expected.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Patience. Just because Bloomberg decided to concoct an article headlined “Apple’s Failed Retail Revolution” that claims failure over an artificial timeline that Bloomberg themselves constructed out of straw doesn’t mean Apple’s iBeacon, or beacons in general, are a failure. It actually takes time to roll out a technology to every retailer to the point of ubiquity. Yes, Virginia, er… Joshua, such major endeavors do not happen instantly.

Apple iBeacon finds its way into McDonald’s and sandwich sales increase – December 18, 2014
Estimote makes ‘Nearables’ – iBeacon stickers you can stick on anything – August 22, 2014
Apple and the omnichannel: 9 industries already using Apple’s iBeacon – July 29, 2014
Hudson’s Bay and Lord & Taylor roll out Apple’s iBeacon tech across North America – July 28, 2014
Hundreds of London businesses are about to flip the switch on payments via iBeacons – June 19, 2014
inMarket: iBeacon increases in-store app usage, retention, and brand engagement – June 16, 2014
Google wants in on Apple Inc.’s iBeacon party – June 9, 2014
GE integrates iBeacon into new LED light fixtures, Walmart installing in stores worldwide – May 29, 2014
Walgreens and Walmart testing iBeacon, Motorola Solutions launches iBeacon marketing platform – May 7, 2014
Virgin Atlantic trials Apple iBeacon tech for iPhone users at London Heathrow Airport – May 2, 2014
New York City bars to use Apple’s iBeacon for pub crawl promo – April 28, 2014
New sunglasses with iBeacon notify you when lost, act as beacons in retail – April 28, 2014


  1. Retail, use innovative technology? Please. Most of them just do what’s necessary to stay in business and not a single bit of effort further. Most of them won’t even hire a full time employee.

    Now… I have an incredible idea for implementing iBeacon. Just not sure it will be possible. I was thinking about putting one in every room of the house, to automatically flip on lights as you walk through, and adjust the temperature to the average preference of everyone inside the house. True home automation is when things work by themselves like this, not just moving the still manual switch from the wall to your phone.

  2. I see MDN is hopping back on the Apple Does No Wrong bandwagon. If only three percent of retailers have adopted your service after two years, it’s a failure.

    iBeacon is so little known that I even forgot it existed until I saw this story. And the article linked mentioned that people who get more than one message from an app tend to start ignoring those messages.

    Then there’s the issue of needing an app for each retailer that you want beacons from. If I walk into a store that uses iBeacon, but I don’t know that they do, and I’ve never downloaded the store’s app – no message, no coupon, nothing. Kinda kills the idea that iBeacon can help a store capture the attention of first-time visitors.

    Plus, there’s the privacy aspect; or should I say, lack of privacy aspect.

  3. Sadly Apple does not seem to have the desire to have multiple groups each focusing on a product group. iBeacon like any other product needs someone that is focused on selling it to possible customers and help create showcases. We got a few examples early in its lifecycle but not much has happened since.

    AppleTv could have brought it to home but that did not happen. Maybe Apple is doing away with iBeacon in favor of another tech it acquired that helps map indoor spaces using various wireless signals such as wifi stations and cell towers.

    No sense of urgency 🙁

    1. iBeacon is not a product or even a feature, it’s a developer technology/protocol. Apple made the APIs available to developers.. it’s up to them to utilize it and create something “insanely great” out of it.

      This technology happens to be apart of the physical world, which takes a lot of time to proliferate. It’s only been a couple of years, do you really think that you were going to walk anywhere and pick up these beacons already?

  4. I’ve worked a little with iBeacon and BLE, and I think the barriers to participation will outweigh the utility. Currently the customer needs to:
    Be aware of the offer,
    Have downloaded the app, and
    Have the app switched on

    To get, what 15% off the price of a coffee or whatever?

    Meanwhile MLA via wifi RSSI (though still a bit early stage) looks to offer more useful data to shops, and possibly could deliver the same of better benefits to customers.

    Apple’s indoor survey app may be an indication that Apple have realised this.

  5. Definitely they failed with iBeacon. MDN overhyped this one big time. Apple’s batting average is less than 1.000 on new introductions. Apple News is a fail. Homekit-major fail. Healthkit – debatable depending on if you have the Watch or not. Apple Music – a mixed bag of success and failure.

    This does not mean Apple can’t eventually get these things right going forward but each of them has serious flaws. No doubt Apple is overheating a little as they multitask/process all of these new things. Still, its been a great year.

  6. Retail isn’t the only use of iBeacon. I’ve been in a few museums where the technology is implemented, and it’s a pretty damn incredible experience.

    While the technology is extremely simple and straightforward to develop around, actual implementation from a retail perspective is quite an undertaking and will take some time.

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