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What are iBeacons and why they might change marketing?

What is an iBeacon?

An iBeacon is a branded product developed by Apple. Yet, another highly anticipated piece of technology soon to flood the market you may be thinking…

You’ll be pleased to know if you have an iOS 7 enabled device, you already have an iBeacon.

iBeacons work hand in hand with the Location Services via iOS software such as Maps, Camera, Safari and many other third party apps that rely on data from GPS, Cellular and Wi-Fi to determine your location. It’s the same principle used by Safari (or your chosen web browser) when recommending places to eat and local attractions in your current location.

iBeacon has been likened to an existing technology you may have heard of called NFC (Near Field Communication). NFC has predominantly been used for the information exchange between two devices. It’s short-range, low powered and highly accurate for a mobile phone to be used as a debit, credit card and is also a great way to introduce loyalty cards; such as the retailer EAT, where Orange’s QuickTap allows you to purchase a sandwich and grab a coffee with just the tap of your smart phone.

So, how useful are iBeacons to marketing?

Ok, we’re going to speak to the ladies for a moment….imagine walking into your favourite shoe store and suddenly receiving a notification on your smart phone to say “Welcome (your name), enjoy today’s special offer of 50% off any pair of shoes!” Automatically you will be drawn into the offer and any other potential promotions the store may have, right? Of course you would...

iBeacons will most definitely make a huge impact on the retail sector, be it the food industry, clothing and even the lucrative automotive sector.

You’re probably thinking why hasn’t Apple already included NFC in their new iPhones, well why would they when they already have iBeacons and it proves to be better than NFC?

And here’s why…..

  • NFC requires the co-operation of banks and credit card companies to facilitate transactions. iBeacons just need your Apple ID account, which you will have already as an iPhone user.
  • NFC users have to tap their device next to a NFC tag in order for content to be pushed to their device. With iBeacons the content is pushed directly to the user as long as they have the brand’s app installed
  • The NFC range is small. The range of iBeacons is up to 50 metres without a loss of precision because iBeacons uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to place you within mere feet of a location.
  • BLE allows smartphone payments to be processed even when a user’s device hasn’t got a connection to a network. In a retail environment, BLE can be used when there is no Wi-Fi or 3G signal.


An app which estimates your proximity to an iBeacon (a display or shop checkout) using a Bluetooth Low Energy signal. BLE is a newer version of Bluetooth that knows no physical barriers and uses almost no battery life.

It’s not just new iOS 7 devices that implement this technology, as you can see from Clair O’Neill’s article a marketer’s guide to iBeacons and BLE

Other devices that are BLE compatible are the Nokia Lumias, Samsung Galaxy Nexus and the BlackBerry Z10 and Q10.

To find out more about the endless possibilities of iBeacons please see



Sundeep Gill, Marketing Coordinator



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