The ability to provide real-time, location-specific, personalized data delivered straight to a customer's smartphone has long been considered the holy grail of location-based marketing.
The report goes on to say that Beacons are the most important retail technology since mobile mobile credit card readers.
Beacons are inexpensive pieces of hardware that send Bluetooth signals that trigger location-based applications in smartphones. Applications include include customer service notifications, special upgrade offers or other personalized marketing messages.
The chart below, from the report, shows BI's forecast of the number of Beacons installed in the US.
A key reason everyone is so bullish on Beacons is its use of Bluetooth, which is supported by a large and growing number of smartphones. Key report quote on the Bluetooth installed base:
Beacons are compatible with about one-third of active smartphones globally and nearly all iPhones.Globally, we estimate that 570 million Android and Apple smartphones are compatible with Bluetooth low energy (BLE), the signal emitted by beacons to wake up smartphone apps, which translates to roughly one-third of the smartphone installed base. The proportion of BLE-compatible phones would be even higher in markets like the U.S. where Apple devices are more common. All iPhones running iOS 7 (90% of iPhones) are compatible with BLE.
We agree with BI that Beacons will change retail. While mass deployment is still several years away, small retailers should start to follow this technology with the aim of understanding how it could be used in their businesses.