Why Apple's 'indoor GPS' plan is brilliant
A Polish company called Estimote, which has an office in Silicon Valley, has already announced pricing for iBeacons-supporting devices: Three of them will cost $99. (Note that three iBeacons is plenty for even a large store.)
A company called Roximity will lease you their iBeacon-supporting gadgets for $10 per month each.
Now we know why WifiSLAM
Apple announced in early August the acquisition of a startup called WifiSLAM, a company that specialized in "indoor GPS." Specifically, WifiSLAM's technology triangulates both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (BLE) to enable precise location tracking indoors.
In the context of iBeacon, Apple should be able to know how far a user is from both iBeacons and Wi-Fi hotspots, pinpointing the user's location to within inches.
Just a touch upon Touch ID
The final piece of the puzzle for the point-of-sale and transaction part is user authentication, which Apple revealed with the introduction of Touch ID fingerprint sensors on the iPhone 5S line. (I suspect all phones announced in the future will also have Touch ID sensors.)
The less insightful commentary on Touch ID suggested that its purpose is to protect the cat videos and electronic receipts on your iPhone -- in other words, protect the iPhone itself. But the real purpose of Touch ID is to authenticate users. "Yes, it's really Mike Elgan -- go ahead and process that payment using his credit card on file with iTunes."
One killer fact about iBeacons
People have been waiting for years for eWallets and virtual cash registers, as well as location-based marketing and automated check-ins to take off.
For the most part, we've been waiting for NFC, a short-range, low-power wireless technology that requires a special chip in both devices connecting to each other. Some Android phones, for example, have shipped with NFC chips. And every iPhone announcement of the last few years has been accompanied by speculation that, finally, Apple would build NFC into phones.
The expectations have been that the road to ewallets, virtual cash registers, location-based marketing and automated check-ins would be a long and arduous one, with full adoption someplace in the misty future.
But here's the killer fact about iBeacons: Every iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s already supports iBeacons and everything iBeacons can offer -- that's probably about 200 million actively used phones (give or take 50 million), with Apple's selling dozens of millions more per quarter.
The equipment required for retailers to embrace iBeacons is a rounding error -- next to nothing on the hardware side.
And Apple is pushing app developers to build features and functionality into the system.
There will be no long buildup and chicken-and-egg hold-up around Apple's plan to kill cash registers, as well as implement location-based advertising and promotions.
Most iPhones in use already support it.
I think that very soon iBeacon solutions will be showing up all over the place.
Apple's plan is so good -- so elegant and cost effective -- that it won't just kill cash registers. It will probably kill NFC, too.
- Apple's CarPlay vs. MirrorLink: Is there a need for both?
- Apple's CarPlay to spark mobile apps war in your car
- iTunes is almost as big a biz as OEM Windows
- Icahn says 'I can't' and stops $50B fight over Apple stock buyback
- Lenovo-Moto deal's impact on Apple? Zip
- Office 365 turns one, but success is tough to tally
- Everyone bets on bigger iPhone for '14
- Apple's iPod business collapses as revenue becomes a rounding error
- Update: More than 1B smartphones were shipped in 2013
- Cook admits Apple blew the call on the iPhone 5C
Read more about Mobile Payments in Computerworld's Mobile Payments Topic Center.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Pay-as-you-Grow Data Protection: IBM Tivoli's Full-featured Data Protection Suite for Small to Medium Businesses IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Suite for Unified Recovery gives small and medium businesses the opportunity to start out with only the individual solutions...
- Streamline Data Protection with IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Operations Center IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) has been an industry-standard data protection solution for two decades. But, where most competitors focus exclusively on Backup...
- Simplify and Consolidate Data Protection for Better Business Results Learn about IBM® Tivoli® Storage Manager Operations Center, which provides advanced visualization, built-in analytics and integrated workflow automation features that leapfrog traditional backup...
- HP HAVEn: See the big picture in Big Data HP HAVEn is the industry's first comprehensive, scalable, open, and secure platform for Big Data. Enterprises are drowning in a sea of data...
- Meg Whitman presents Unlocking IT with Big Data During this Web Event you will hear Meg Whitman, President and CEO, HP discuss HAVEn - the #1 Big Data platform, as well...
- The New Way to Work Knowledge Vault This Knowledge Vault focuses on how, in today's increasingly virtual world, it's more important than ever to engage deeply with employees, suppliers, partners,... All Mobile Payments White Papers | Webcasts