It seems that privacy has taken one step backwards yet again and this time due to Apple Inc. As an attempt to improve customer service, Apple Inc. has introduced iBeacon, which will track people as they shop in any of its stores. According to the owner of the number one smartphone in the US, this is to help better a shopper’s experience within the store than ever before.
The idea of iBeacon is not to spy on customers to see what they are up to in the store. It is to improve a person’s experience, by sending push notifications to their own Apple devices. This could work out extremely useful for many shoppers, especially those who walk into an Apple store for the first time.
There will be a series of iBeacon transmitters set around the various US stores. Many of these will simply be iPads and iPhones strategically placed around the buildings. They then use Bluetooth to connect to a person’s own device and track the exact location. It sounds creepy when thought about too much, but it is quite genius from sales point of view.
The iBeacon technology, introduced today by Apple Inc., will track people as they shop in the stores. As it does this, the company will be able to alert them of promotions within that area of the store. It will also be able to check whether they are due an upgrade or have come to pick up an order, so they will be directed to the right place to go in the building.
Part of the upgrade feature is to alert customers when they walk past the products. While checking the ability to upgrade, the technology will find out whether it is possible to get money back for a device. It could help customers save money on something they would not be aware of otherwise.
The question for many is how this new technology will advance. Right now it is limited to inside stores. However, it is possible that people will start getting push notifications when they walk past an Apple store, or even while they are stuck on the subway or in a traffic jam. Many may worry that these messages will become obtrusive and annoying.
There is also the worry about privacy. However, studies in the past have shown that customers are willing to be tracked in a store when there is a benefit for them. iBeacon definitely shows the promise of a benefit, whether it is alerts on a promotional deal or messages about cash back schemes.
If the technology works out well for Apple Inc., it could prove beneficial for many other companies. Museums could use it to share more information about paintings and artifacts people are looking at, and retailers can track the length of time people spend in each aisle. It all rests on how well iBeacon goes. Apple Inc. introducing the new iBeacon technology to track people as they shop is just the first wave of how technology has grown over the years.
By Alexandria Ingham
El Paso Inc.