How interesting that our earliest ways of conceiving mobile involved getting connected with customers anytime and anywhere. The most intimate medium was envisioned by many of us as the final smash against the crumbling wall of mass media. This was a device that demanded a more fragmented, personalized, situationally aware approach to marketing than any mass medium and even interactive medium of the last century allowed.
Ironically, one of the key battlegrounds among mobile platforms is not over accessing everyone everywhere, but over very specific places and the people moving within them. The indoor location market is suddenly about to boom. ABI Research says that the combined interest of some of the biggest names in mobile and the Internet will help make indoor location mapping and other technologies worth $4 billion by 2018. They foresee that within the next year there will be at least 25,000 local mapping and indoor location technology installations worldwide, and handsets supporting the communications technologies involved will be in the hundreds of millions.
Well, technically, WiFi could be considered an indoor location tech, since access points can triangulate based on signal strength. But Bluetooth LTE seems to be the hot trend for the next year. With Apple rolling out iBeacons and others like Mobiquity and PayPal leveraging the technology, BT is set for a big 2014, ABI says. The iPhone 5s is only starting to penetrate the market. But ABI Practice Director states: “Apple hasn’t made a big marketing deal on indoor with the new iPhone 5s, largely because the ecosystem isn’t in place yet. But under the shiny, spotted hood is a hardware platform that is now well placed to support ‘always-on’ indoor location, sensor fusion, and ambient intelligence.”
Apple, Google and eBay are poised to be major players in this space if they want to be. Google’s indoor mapping project is ongoing. eBay’s PayPal and Apple already have in-store beacon models planned. And all the major players in the network space like Cicso and Aruba have invested in WiFi to penetrate live places.
In other words, we are laying the infrastructure for those Minority Report moments. Not only will marketers be reaching out to us because we are in a location, but the location itself will personalize as it senses us via our devices. The shopping mall and your grocery store could become very cluttered and annoyingly interactive places.