On Friday, all 254 of Apple’s retail stores in the United States launched iBeacon wireless short-range technology.
As a result, shoppers will be able to receive messages about products, events and other information, all of which can be tailored to precisely where they are located inside of the store.
It goes without saying, of course, that the receipt of these messages is contingent upon whether the shopper has both downloaded the Apple Store app and granted permission to Apple to track and message them.
Recently, NBC News confirms, the AP received a hands-on iBeacon demonstration from Apple at its busy Fifth Avenue store in New York City, where 20 iBeacon transmitters are in place.
The transmitters use Bluetooth wireless technology to sense your exact location. That’s not possible with GPS, which don’t work well indoors and aren’t good at distinguishing between locations that are just a few feet apart.
Apple is singing the praises of iBeacon technology in light of how it bestows upon apps “a whole new level of micro-location awareness, such as trail markers in a park, exhibits in a museum, or product displays in stores.”
Critics, however, say Apple needs to be particularly careful not to overdue their in-store mobile marketing.
“The fact that apple thinks this is a good idea tells a lot about their opinion of consumers,” one iBeacon-basher was quoted Friday. “I mean… are you serious? ‘He’s over there, no wait he’s over there now! Quick send a beacon about those headphones before he walks away from them!’”
Apple hasn’t yet provided any insight with regard to how many mobile messages could conceivably be sent to one customer during a single visit. As of this writing, there doesn’t appear to be a cap that some are calling for.