Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Beacons have emerged as a major new wireless technology with a multi-billion dollar market development opportunity -- and it's a key part the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem.
BLE Beacons provide a long list of next-generation uses cases in growing markets -- including indoor location proximity, in-store retail, smart home, smart city, industrial, mobile payments, wearables, mobile advertising, and ambient intelligence.
BLE beacons are now ready for mainstream adoption in 2016, following a strong 2015 third quarter in shipments and new contract signings, according to the latest worldwide market study by ABI Research. Moreover, the current use cases also create significant new demand for big data storage and software analytics applications.
"We populated our contract tracker with a handful of company names in the last quarter, including IKEA, H&M, Macy’s, Target, Pizza Hut, Elle, Espirit, McDonalds and Carrefour," said Patrick Connolly, principal analyst at ABI Research.
Meanwhile, companies like Groupon, Facebook and Google are starting to bring their SME beacon strategies to market. Adoption is now across the retail board with really strong interest from the quick-serve restaurants, as well as the banking sector.
Emerging Applications and High-Growth Markets
Additionally, the Out of Home (OOH) advertising market is showing rapid expansion, with the first major deployments in Europe. Case in point, Strӧer announced plans for 50,000 deployments in Germany, with Exterion Media following suit in Holland and the UK.
India is also a recent market adopter, with InteractionOne deploying a 1,000 beacon network. There are already some very large asset tracking contracts for BLE beacons in industrial, vending, hospital and airport market sectors.
According to the ABI assessment, most vendors are now shipping devices for multiple beacon deployment projects in the tens of thousands. This is a major upgrade from 2014, indicating that a lot of retailers are accelerating their plans for 2016.
As ABI Research correctly predicted in August 2015, Sensoro is emerging as a major market player, with more than 110,000 beacons deployed in China and some additional major orders lined up for 2016.
"Interestingly, vendors have not seen significant demand for Eddystone as of yet, with many waiting for Google to reveal its hand, as well as for the arrival of dual iBeacon/Eddystone solutions," concludes Connolly. "Most OEMs are working on solving the latter by incorporating power efficient solutions and/or including two batteries. Google's new Web Bluetooth API may also help to drive adoption in 2016."