Yesterday, Apple revealed that the next version of their operation system, iOS 8, will scramble media access control (MAC) addresses thus preventing the immediate tracking of iPhone users. The acquisition of MAC addresses has been a boon to retailers who are able to analyze store traffic and make assumptions about purchasing decisions. It has also allowed digital media companies to suggest content for mobile advertisting.
Marketing Land suggests, however, that it simply makes it harder but not impossible to track location. Now, retailers must offer mobile apps that are "opt-in" thus allowing the actual MAC address to be captured. According to the publication:
Apple’s move broadly does two related things. It forces those who want to market to iPhone users to consider ways to get them to opt-in to share location and compels networks and marketers to be more transparent around location tracking. Placed, a location analytics company, uses an opt-in panel to track offline store visits from digital ads. It won’t be affected at all by this.
Cult of Mac is suggesting that the move isn't so much about privacy as it is about coercing retailers to adopt iBeacon technology as a means of capturing data and tracking customers.