Apple launches iBeacon in 254 stores to streamline shopping experience

Apple launches iBeacon in 254 stores to streamline shopping experience

Summary: App-based in-store notifications are coming to Apple's US retail outlets.

TOPICS: Apple, iOS

Apple will activate "iBeacon" transmitters at its 254 US stores in what's thought to be the first major retail rollout of micro proximity-based retail assistance.

iPhone owners who have installed the Apple Store app and enabled "in-store" push notifications for it should, from Friday, start receiving product suggestions, tips and promotions when they enter Apple stores.

According to the Associated Press, all 245 Apple Stores in the US will begin using iBeacons, which are short-range low-energy Bluetooth transmitters that can detect a device's location more precisely than GPS to determine when to push a notification.

Apple has installed about 20 iBeacons at its Fifth Avenue store in New York City, some of which are iBeacon transmitters and others that are iPhones and iPads geared up for the task, according to the Associated Press report.

Shoppers can expect the app to notify them when an order is ready to be collected, or suggest an upgrade or trade-in on an existing phone. It can also support Apple's ticketing system.

Apple added support for iBeacon in iO7 and the technology is already being tested at Major League Baseball stadiums in the US. There it's being used to send notifications about automatic check-ins, video snippets, ticket availability, coupons and special offers.

London-based startup Exact Editions recently launched its iBeacon service for publishers, offering them a way to make their magazine apps free of charge at certain locations, for example to promote paid subscriptions at a cafe, a hotel or a first class lounge.

The same action can be achieved using geolocation, only with iBeacon it can be controlled down to within 15 metres of a transmitter, it notes.

In Exact Editions' case, it's hoping venues and publishers adopt the concept of 'mini-site licenses', which it argues could help drive subscriptions for the former and patrons to the latter. The other advantage is the potential for better in-store analytics of the type Amazon and other e-commerce sites enjoy.

 Further reading

Topics: Apple, iOS

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • I like the idea of being notified on my phone

    when I'm in the store that my order is ready. Not so keen in being bombarded with sales pitches the whole time I'm walking around.
    • It's a choice...

      If you don't want to be bothered, just turn off Bluetooth. Two quick clicks on an iDevice.
      • All on or all off is a poor choice

        I'd prefer a filter: Let me see "order is ready" and block "we have a two for one today on..."
  • Spam

    Thank goodness this spam system is only for Apple users. Stores now need to suck more money from them to pay for the spam iBeakon system.
    Sean Foley
    • Why not go visit one of your preferredMS stores

      You will have no trouble getting served given that they are empty!
  • iBacon