The smart beacon market is expected to register a CAGR of 45% during the forecast period, 2021-2026. Beacon technology enables smartphones, tablets, and other devices to perform actions when in close proximity to a beacon. When Apple launched its iBeacons in 2013, proximity marketing became a major trend in the industry, which was widely used by the giants. In 2019, the world's biggest retailer, Amazon, used beacons to track attendees at one of Amazon's largest Amazon web services conferences. Instead of using the technology in sending personalized messages, Amazon later stated that the devices were used to track foot traffic anonymously and gain insights into crowd behavior. These instances provide significant trends for the growth of the market studied.
- The increasing need for spatial data, which can be used to analyze the current demographic trend, is driving the growth of the market studied in various applications. One of the most widespread usages of beacon technology in higher education is the expedition of administrative tasks, such as attendance monitoring. Attendance monitoring via beacons increases efficiency and saves time. It also replaces a physical attendance sheet with spatially and automatically detected attendance information. For instance, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University use iBeacons for attendance and other functions through an in-house developed mobile application.
- Moreover, by creating virtual perimeters around real-world geographic areas to communicate with users in those areas, players are focused on innovating advanced geofence technology and spatial data for increasing the audience reach and capturing telematics around hundreds of thousands of points of interests in the smart connect platform.
- The increasing adoption of smart beacons in logistics and transportation drives the market. As beacons carry low unit costs and leverage existing infrastructure, initial investments and operational costs are kept to a minimum in the logistic sector. Additionally, it is an alternative for GSM tracker and RFID tags, which have a short life span and high overall cost for unit operation. In transportation, beacon devices connected with the software emulate the electronic bill. The customization of beacons with additional sensors, such as temperature, humidity, and light) are relevant for freight forwarders, who comply with certain regulations in the supply chain.
- Moreover, Bluetooth's next trick is to provide build meshed networks for broadcasting the signal from one sensor to the next. The internet gateway device does not require a direct connection to all loading units, however, as the signal forwards from one device to another, the meshed networks are likely to work very well on ships, trains, or within terminals.
- However, creating a beacon solution requires a high skill that challenges the growth of the market. One should get skilled or hire a proper software engineer with expertise in beacon-based or geofencing solutions, and this is likely to take time, which could be more time consuming if the company is a medium-sized or enterprise that needs a highly scalable solution.
Key Market Trends
Retail Accounts for Significant Market Share
- Owing to the increasing growth in retail sales, the use of smartphones has fully revolutionized the way of people shop. In order to improve the customer's experience, drive revenue, and increase the operational efficiency, retailers are now utilizing the location-based proximity marketing solution called Beacon technology.
- Beacon technology (Bluetooth low energy (BLE) beacons) is an incredibly effective way to create a cohesive online and in-store experience. By tracking a customer's in-store movement, retailers can deliver targeted information and discounts depending on which products customer is perusing. This can lead to higher conversion rates. Players, such as Swirl Networks Inc., found over 70% of shoppers are of the opinion that beacon triggered content and increased their likelihood to purchase in-store.
- Moreover, aiming to solve the personalization problem, retailers are using technology to understand their customers better. Stores, like Target and CVS, have installed beacons, wireless devices that communicate with customers' Bluetooth-enabled cell phones while they shop. An average-sized Target store is estimated to employ 1000 beacons.
- The retailers make sure most of their customers can be tracked. This even include the customers who do not download their own particular app. Thus, a hidden industry of third-party location-marketing firms assist the retailers. These companies take customer's beacon tracking code and bundle it into a toolkit developers. Companies, such as Reveal Mobile, collect data from software development kits inside approximately hundreds of used apps that are used frequently. In the United States, another company called InMarket covers around 38% of millennial moms, around one-quarter of all smartphones, and tracks 50 million people every month.
- Moreover, the recent update of Bluetooth specifications to Bluetooth 5.1 is capable of bringing enhanced and more cost-effective navigation solutions to the market with a positioning accuracy of less than a meter. However, retail businesses that are currently using beacons for indoor navigation are likely to update their hardware infrastructure to adopt the new protocol.
Asia-Pacific to Witness Significant Market Growth
- Asia-Pacific region is expected to witness significant growth due to the increasing traction of the beacon technology in India and Australia, for various applications. The market is still in a nascent stage and has a lot of potentials in this region.
- In July 2019, Smart India Hackathon 2019 edition was held at IIT Indore, which comprised of a team of six students from Bengaluru's MVJ College of Engineering, who innovated a device that can convert any digital text to Braille in real-time for a blind person. A beacon service is also added to the reader to help the visually impaired to be conscious of their surroundings. A small Bluetooth device placed in public places is used to transmit signals, and any bBook in the range can detect it, and deliver information in Braille.
- Moreover, mall developers in India have found appropriate technology solutions and several retail chains in malls have successfully implemented technologies, such as beacons.
- For instance, in 2019, Quest Mall launched its mobile app providing various features for enhanced user engagement. The app paired with Bluetooth Beacons is installed inside the mall through which users get push notifications of various ongoing offers provided by different brands/ stores within the mall. It also has interactive user games and features like the Walk-n-Win, which works like a pedometer and counts the steps taken by the patrons/customers inside the mall.
- Moreover, in Australia, drivers in both cities are expected to not face losing their navigation signal while underground. In February 2020, Sydney joined Brisbane for introducing the new Waze-designed technology providing phone navigation systems with a Bluetooth signal even the GPS coverage is not available. Over 500 beacons had been active for around a month in 5.4 kilometers of Sydney's recently-opened M4 tunnels, which were opened in July 2019, with plans to roll out the technology in 9km for the new M5 tunnels that are to be opened in mid-2020, and 7.5km of the M4-M5 Link tunnels further opening in 2023.
- In November 2019, Transurban introduced over 930 Bluetooth beacons for the 18 km of Brisbane tunnels, with the technology currently being operational in the city's AirportlinkM7, Clem7, and Legacy Way tunnels. The above mentioned developments are expected to drive the growth of the smart beacons.
The smart beacon market is fragmented in nature as beacon firms specialize in specific areas, due to which competition is high. The smart beacon industry is currently adapting in order to accommodate more complex applications, that could increase the rivalry in the market in the future. Key players are Aruba, Kontakt.io, etc.
Recent developments in the market are:
- October 2019 - Uber announced the introduction of an updated version of its colorful Beacon gadget known as Beacon 2.0., where the digital display is meant to sit on the car's dashboard and will glow a specific color that riders chose in the app to help them find the right car in crowded situations. The Beacon's digital display also reminds riders to wear their seat belt, close car doors gently, and exit curbside.
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