Guest Post: iBeacons – Apple’s threat to NFC

by Ryan Benson, a blogger who sometimes works with iPhone.Plaveb

ryan is a little shy

Beacons are turning out to be the new buzzword – often eliminating the gap existing between online and offline. Beacons can play an instrumental role in improving customer satisfaction level by reducing friction between the customer and the brand. To this end, Apple has created an indoor positioning system which it calls iBeacon. The system uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) – otherwise known as Bluetooth 4.0 or Bluetooth Smart. Some even consider iBeacon to be a possible threat to Near Field Communication (NFC). [But GoMo News doesn't – Ed.] Below I outline the reasons why I think iBeacon might trounce NFC.

Apple has provided support for BLE on every iOS device since the iPhone 4S.

However, many Android smartphones also support Bluetooth 4.0 and Android OS 4.3 or above such as the Samsung Galaxy S III and 4; Nexus 4; HTC One; and Droid DNA.

Apple introduced support for iBeacon’s small Bluetooth sensors in iOS 7 which create a ‘beacon’ around a region.

This effectively means that an app can alert a consumer when a consumer enters such region.

For example, if a consumer enters a retail outlet, the consumer could receive instant notifications of items on sale or items a consumer may be looking for.

It also goes one step ahead to enable a consumer to make payments at the point of sale (POS), thereby eliminating the need of producing a wallet or card to make a payment.

Recently, Apple launched its iBeacon strategy for retail stores. In this context-driven world, iBeacon can provide the right information at the right time and at the right place.

Remember a consumer can choose to receive notifications plus do the following: -

  • Collect online orders: – check out the latest happenings in store
  • Read reviews and buy accessories
  • Check stock availability and receive notifications for products based on the consumer’s preferences
  • Make final payment

NFC versus iBeacon

NFC was once considered the future of mobile payments. But, Apple’s iBeacon is certainly challenging NFC. T

he biggest advantage is the trust that users typically associate with a brand such as Apple.

On the other hand, NFC has struggled to win the customer’s trust. There is no denying the fact that both users and brands will embrace iBeacon.

Many big and market-leading brands will use iBeacons for their stores and apps to improve bottom-line results and reach affluent Apple users.

In fact, Major League Baseball (MLB) has announced it will use iBeacons to help fans attending the games.

Here are the other factors that work in favour of iBeacon: -

  • NFC’s range is up to 20 cm (7.87 inches) but the actual optimal range is < 4cm (1.57 inches). Whereas iBeacons can work up to 50 m range
  • A mobile device needs an NFC chip so that it can handle NFC communications
  • The majority of phones don’t have NFC chips (especially no iOS devices) but most have Bluetooth capability

iBeacon failed to create flutter when it was announced at the company’s WorldWide Developer Conference back in June 2013.

Apple recently [December 2013] switched on iBeacon in more than 250 Apple stores, providing product updates and other information to shoppers who had downloaded the App Store app.

However, this revolutionary technology is all set to transform not just the retail sector, but transcend way beyond across different industries.

Apple said iBeacon provides apps with “a whole new level of micro-location awareness, such as trail markers in a park, exhibits in a museum, or product displays in stores.”

While it is now only just the beginning of Apple’s iBeacon, a deeper integration with iOS ecosystem will make it a force to reckon with in the near future.

Author Biog

Ryan Benson works with iPhone.Plaveb, a leading iOS application development company, specialising in developing best-in-class iPhone applications plus iPad apps. He enjoys keeping a track of the latest development in iOS ecosystem. In his spare time,readers will find him blogging on various tech web sites.

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