In December Apple rolled out its iBeacon program which is now, somewhat miraculously, teaching brick and mortar merchants to love mobile phones. iBeacons are Bluetooth Low Energy devices that can communicate with iPhones and iPads within 150 feet (and can vary messages depending on the exact distance). The Adobe Digital Marketing blog wrote a slightly romanticized account of what iBeacon could mean to customers and the Content Marketing Institute has provided examples of iBeacon use along with other ideas for digital marketers.
The Bruce Clay blog listed four amazing things that marketers can do with iBeacons. While most of the examples feature glamorous brands (including two major league baseball stadiums, Dollar General Stores has been praised as a company that is 'doing it right'.
Apple's use of the word 'beacon' seems to indicate a belief that marketers have forgotten the privacy disaster of Facebook Beacon. The iBeacon may also face some unique challenges. ReCode provided guidelines that may help to use iBeacon without bothering customers and they also pointed out that, right now, customers will have to install the store's app to communicate with iBeacons. TechCrunch described a store of the future where, for better or worse, sales people will know exactly where high value customers are and where they have been in the store.