Over the last twelve months iBeacons /BLE beacons have caught the zeitgeist and emerged as a key anchor technology in the retail space. However, there are many other markets that will generate even bigger volumes of BLE beacon shipments over the next 5 years, creating a 60 million unit market in 2019.
ABI Research’s latest report “BLE Tags and the Location of Things”, outlines the larger opportunities for BLE Beacons in Commercial/Enterprise, Connected Home and Personal Asset Tracking. Senior analyst Patrick Connolly comments, “It may surprise many to see that retail is the smallest market covered in the report. In building terms, many stores are relatively small in comparison to a corporate office or hospital, while the items being tracked i.e. consumers, are already BLE-enabled through their smartphones, further limiting the number of beacons required.”
Clearly connected home and personal asset tracking have huge potential for BLE beacons and will feed into a much larger Internet of Everything. We will see silos of beacon networks emerging over the next 5 years, and larger companies like Apple and Google must consider how to aggregate this into a cohesive system, creating new revenue opportunities.
However, beacons have already been dropping significantly in price and while 60 million is an impressive number, this translates into less than $500 million in hardware revenue, which must be disseminated across the army of start-ups and developers working with beacons. Certainly the margin in a basic beacon will disappear rapidly, with companies like Quuppa, Sonic Notify and StickNFind adding new location and range capabilities to better enable these new markets. Gimbal and others are looking at the on-going management of beacon networks, to generate long term revenues.
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