..Apple Could Have 250M Potential Units In The Wild By 2014
Yesterday, Apple began a small press push on its new iBeacon technology, pushed an Apple Store app update to support them and turned the feature on in 254 U.S. based stores in an initial rollout. According to the details we know so far, some Apple stores may have as many as 20 iBeacons deployed, depending on the size.
But the size of that rollout is deceptive for a couple of reasons — and the full implications of the impact on Apple’s iPad business, the internal mapping industry and the retail market are far bigger than anyone has really copped to.
Specifically, most of the coverage of iBeacons so far has failed to recognize a very important reality of this system: every iOS device since the iPhone 4S and iPad 3rd gen is already capable of being either an iBeacon receiver or transmitter, as long as it’s properly configured.
Yes, there are separate devices like Estimote’s beacons that can use Bluetooth LE protocols to act as a beacon, and Apple is using separate, specialized iBeacon devices that look like small silver rectangles tucked under shelves in some stores.
But some of the iBeacons deployed in Apple stores are not specialized hardware at all, they’re just regular iPads or iPhones that have been configured as iBeacons. And that capability extends to any Apple device with Bluetooth Low Energy and the latest major version of iOS. Let that sink in for a minute and you’ll start to realize the forward thinking strategy Apple has been implementing over the course of the last few years.
According to estimates by Creative Strategies Analyst and Techpinions columnist Ben Bajarin, an estimated 170-190 million iOS devices are currently capable of being iBeacons — that is they have the right hardware and are running iOS 7. That number could swell to 250M if holiday sales of iPhones and iPads are strong. Bajarin notes that Apple’s anticipated China Mobile deal could put them over 200M in iPhone sales in 2014 alone.
This means that every compatible iPad currently deployed in a retail store is already capable of being configured as an iBeacon transmitter — and every iOS device with Bluetooth LE can be a reciever. And the iPad is already enormously dominant in the retail space. We spoke to Scott Paul, CEO of ArmorActive — a tablet enclosure solutions company — about their deployments of iPads and other tablets as digital signage, kiosks, information panels and more.
Some 90% of ArmorActive’s sales involve iPads, 88% of its customers are using iOS, 10% use Android, and only 2% are on Windows devices. The company has been installing iPad solutions since late 2010, when the iPad was launched. They handled the installation of iPads in Kate Spade stores that made a splash earlier this year. To date, they’ve deployed nearly 50,000 tablet kiosks in hotels, restaurants, retail and other locations. Paul says that they have seen demand for Android tablets wax and wane as ‘hot’ models like the Nexus 7 have hit the market.
Author: Mathew Panzarino (TechCrunch)