Apple’s iBeacons Are a Slam Dunk for Selling Seat Upgrades

Source - RMTip21, Flickr

Source: RMTip21, Flickr

Oakland’s Golden State Warriors recently became the first NBA basketball team to use Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iBeacon micro-location technology, reports Bloomberg Businessweek. The team used Apple’s iBeacon system as a way to push seat upgrades to fans at the Golden State Warriors’ Oracle Arena. According to the Golden State Warriors digital marketing director Kevin Cote, the team typically has around fifty extra tickets per game. Fans who have downloaded the Warriors’ mobile app and have seats in the so-called “nosebleed” sections are sent seat upgrade alerts via the Bluetooth-enabled iBeacon signals.

Apple’s iBeacon technology uses the Bluetooth Low Energy communications standard to send notifications to mobile devices based on their proximity to a transmitter. The Bluetooth-based technology allows the system to more accurately pinpoint a user’s location than GPS can. The system can be used for indoor navigation purposes as well as targeted marketing.

According to a Forrester Research study cited by Bloomberg Businessweek, about 80 percent of smartphones in the U.S. will have the capability to receive Bluetooth Low Energy signals within the next eighteen months. However, mobile beacon company Sonic Notify estimated that only 30 percent of people who currently have phones with the feature regularly activate it. Despite the current lack of widespread Bluetooth Low Energy usage, Golden State still manages to sell about half of the seat upgrades that it advertises through the app.

Although the Golden State Warriors are the first NBA team to employ Apple’s iBeacons, the technology has already been adopted by several other sports leagues and businesses. According to The New York Times, the National Football League installed iBeacons in MetLife Stadium and Times Square for use during Super Bowl XLVIII.

Major League Baseball has also adopted Apple’s iBeacons and is currently in the process of installing the system in twenty ballparks around the country, reports MacRumors. According to marketing industry news site The Drum, Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) is exploring the use of iBeacons for a marketing campaign during the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

The use of iBeacons in retail businesses is even more widespread. Besides being used in all the Apple Stores located in the U.S., iBeacons have also been installed in several Macy’s (NYSE:M) and American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE:AEO) locations, reports Gigaom. Supermarket chains Safeway (NYSE:SWY) and Giant Eagle have also adopted the system to work with mobile shopping startup inMarket’s iBeacon “Mobile to Mortar” platform.

The iBeacon technology was first introduced as part of iOS 7’s SDK (software development kit) at last year’s Worldwide Developers Conference. Although the system is primarily being used as a marketing tool, some industry watchers believe that iBeacons could one day become an essential component of an in-store wireless mobile payment system.

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