Welcome to the in-store, personalized mobile retail experience. Information where and when you need it most. Brought to you by... Apple?
Apple debuted iBeacon, its Bluetooth-based in-store location technology, in its stores recently, offering a glimpse of the future of shopping: blending the physical with the digital. With the App Store app and Bluetooth turned on (plus a device running iOS 7), you can receive messages specific to wherever you are in the store. Maybe a special, info on upgrading, or turn-by-turn directions to whatever it is you're looking for.
The idea isn't new, but the ease with which retailers will be able to try out in-store apps of their own with iBeacon means that "micro-location" targeting (it doesn't have to be a store - you can imagine the possibilities for museums, parks and events) could see a big upswing in a short period of time.
Which technology will win the race -- Google wants a piece of the action as well - remains to be seen, but iBeacon should provide a nice boost to a feature expected to be a huge deal in retail. Not only for the consumers who opt-in, but for retailers, who will have access to some pretty useful data on store traffic and consumer patterns.
And if you missed last week's episode on the big business of watching other people play video games, it's right here.