The number of beacon manufacturers is growing by the day and as of this month the top ten would be BlueCats, BlueSense, Estimote, Gelo, Glimworm, and Gimbal by Qualcomm, Kontakt, Sensorberg, Sonic Notify, PayPal and Adomaly. You may consider this list and some features mentioned if you are planning to purchase a Beacon. Every manufacturer falls under third party category, with the Appleâs announcement, implying that they would require a license under the MFi Program to build beacons for iOS products and all such products will be compatible with iOS devices.
Features if some iBeacons
- BlueCats: Robust SDK and data analysis, price not available and is shipped as starter pack
- BlueSense provides beacons and integration kits. They are working on the SDK, Integration kit -£24,99 Retail kit -£29.99
- Gelo is considered a robust all-weather beacon that is priced at $69 for a set of two beacons.
- Glimworm beacons are well designed with open source code, priced at $50 for their printed 3D version
- The Gimbal beacon has a range of 50 meters and is prices at -£3 for standard version. The only drawback is the short battery life of 2-3 months.
- Kontakt makes available their customized and well designed beacons and are priced at $135 for a set of 5 beacons
- Sensorberg has come out with mini-beacons, with a range of 30 meters. Their starter kit of 3 Beacons ship at a price of -£89.99
- Sonic Notify Beacons comes with audio technology making them largely compatible with smartphones and are priced at $30 per Beacon.
- PayPal beacons have not come with their price.
- Adomaly prices a pack of ten beacons for $210 that includes shipping.
One look at the above top Beacon features and you would have come to a conclusion that there is a huge price variation and that again depends on design, customization, battery life, form factor, and like every other product will soon drop depending on the scale of production and adoption. Apart from the cost of beacon as hardware it's the software, services and integrations costs that would also matter and post integration you will need in-store engagement as a service. In a matter of couple of years iBeacons are expected to be sold for a pittance soon after the manufacturing and density reaches a critical mass. It is difficult to guess and estimate the ROI as the technology is pretty recent and the benefits of iBeacons come with the cost of deploying and maintaining hardware and integrating it with your apps. Once you set it all up the interactions can all be maintained effectively on the web, while maintaining the hardware such as the battery levels, replacing the dead batteries, moving ones that have been accidentally moved to the wrong place, and so on can be taken care of by you.
Enabling a mobile App
What Apple expects the new iBeacon API is to enhance apps with the support of new types of accessories. Taking into consideration the fact that iBeacon can notify nearby iOS 7 devices of their presence, Apple wants apps developers to incorporate a whole new level of location awareness, such as trail markers in a park, exhibits in a museum, or product displays in stores. Other remarkable features are the ability to setup and configure AirPlay speakers, directly from iOS. Apple has incorporated BLE-based positioning in their iOS 7 framework and iBeacons gives you access to the proximity of devices since the location service inside iOS7 is pre-tuned to notice iBeacons. Apple has integrated iBeacon into iOS 7 and both inside the Core Location and the Passbook kit frameworks to enable indoor micro-location and geofencing.