iBeacon Technology Overview

You have surely heard the term iBeacon or come into contact with this technology, which has been described as a transmitter that can awaken smart phones. This technology has been the subject of discussion in particular since the most recent Mobile World Congress.

What are iBeacons?

An iBeacon is a beacon that transmits a low-energy Bluetooth signal that allows for phones in close proximity to be detected.

How do they work?

An application is installed on the phone that receives the Bluetooth signal. Once the signal is received, either the phone decides to awaken the application such that the target receives a notification, or the application executes an action (e.g. recovering a video or providing a fact sheet).

What are some practical applications of this technology?

 

There are many ways in which this technology can be applied. For instance, iBeacons could be set up in shopping malls, where there is a growing interest in the potential to use them to send promotional offers to customers. In so doing, businesses may use iBeacons to collect qualified data, as is the case with e-Commerce, in addition to improving in-store sales. iBeacons also allow for the inexpensive geolocation of customers, who can be tracked by businesses during their shopping experience.

Another potential application of iBeacons is to the tourism industry, where they can be used to complete the automatic check-in of guests upon their arrival at a hotel. Guests enter the hotel’s iBeacon hotspot and receive a message informing them that their room is ready for them on the fifth floor! With iBeacons, tourism can thus become more interactive and personalized.

In the food service industry, customers who walk past a restaurant can receive a push notification containing the menu of the day or information concerning various future events.

How to set up an iBeacon

 

First, install your iBeacon. To do so, create your iBeacon, then start a new “project” for your iBeacon. What is a project? It is one of several content items that you can associate to the iBeacon in question (e.g. different sets of information sent to visitors at a museum according to whether the visitor is a teacher, a student or another member of the public).

 

Next, create your content. Create a “place”. What does “place” mean? This term refers to a given beacon (e.g. exhibit A in a museum). However, it is also possible to link several locations to a given beacon (e.g. one beacon in a room for exhibits A, B and C). Next, link a place to your beacon and add a “card” to this place.

Information that you may add as a “card” includes tests, images, audio, video, widgets and web links.

Finally, test your technology. To do so, publish your project, open your application on your smartphone, place your beacons and test them by walking close to them with your device.

You are now familiar with the iBeacon technology and will be able to explain this concept to others.

Mobile Application or Mobile Website: How to Decide?

Have you counted the number of applications (or “apps”) that you have downloaded onto your cellphone? The answer is probably in the 100 range, without including the number of updates that you are asked to install each week!

What should your business choose to offer: a mobile app or a mobile website?

Depending on the use that you wish to make of it, both of these solutions are worth considering. Let’s take a look at the differences between the two.

In the case of mobile apps, these are defined as software applications that are downloaded onto a mobile device, whereas mobile websites are Internet sites that are tailored to the formats of smartphones and tablets.

How long will mobile app remain on our devices before we decide to remove them? This is up for debate. Mobile websites, however, are at all times available to users.

Over time, the support and maintenance of a mobile app could require more effort compared to a website.

Mobile app updates must be downloaded by users, thereby reducing the available space on their devices, whereas web updates are less cumbersome both for users and for businesses.

Is it thus worth considering the abandonment of mobile apps?

By 2019, it is predicted that 20% of brands will abandon their mobile apps (Pemberton, 2017). Indeed, it is becoming increasingly difficult to entice users to download an app, as they have the luxury of choosing whether or not to do so.

This shows that the number of app downloads has plateaued due to user fatigue for downloading and using the apps that are available. It is accordingly difficult for businesses to maintain interest among users for their mobile apps (Leow, Baker, Marshall, Revang and Wong, 2016).

By 2022, it is predicted that 70% of software interactions will be completed on a mobile platform, but if the trend continues, apps will only be one element in the chain of interactions between users and their devices rather than being at the centre of these interactions. For example, virtual personal assistants such as Siri, Cortana and Google Now will become increasingly present in such interactions and will thus leave less room for the apps themselves (Leow et al., 2016).

You must be wondering: what are the recovery prospects for developers and promoters of apps?

Here are a few proposed solutions.

One suggestion is to put emphasis on the development of ultra-personalized user experiences. This means developing sophisticated apps that use cloud computing services as well as device functionalities to manage data to make predictions for user needs in real time and to offer a unique, personalized and dynamic experience (Leow at al., 2016).

In the case of a mobile app for a retail business, rather than sending the same notification to all users for a 30% rebate, the notification could be sent to one client in particular according to his or her needs, determined according to his or her online activity and profile saved in the customer relationship management (CRM) records of the business.

For example, according to the cumulative historical data on a user based on his or her past use, it is a lunchtime that this client is most likely to consult his or her mobile device. It is accordingly at this time that the customer receives a limited-time offer of 50% savings available at his or her favourite swimwear retailer, meanwhile a local heat wave is predicted for the following week!

It is anticipated that by 2021, 50% of all apps will generate personalized events according to user interest, thereby rendering mobile applications more efficient (Leow et al., 2016).

Brands who design such apps will thus have a better chance of success.