I love magazines. At least once per month, I head over to my local newsstand to check out titles from various categories I am interested in. What makes this event so special is that I am able to see all different types of magazines. Even though I may not have ever heard of a title before, if it catches my eye, I might buy it. Browsing for magazines in Apple’s Newsstand app is just not the same. You have to know what you are looking for when you start shopping.
Apple’s iBeacon technology allows you to connect to iOS devices within 15 feet of the beacon’s point. Tech companies have been working on ways that iBeacon can be used. One idea from Exact Editions is to create a virtual newsstand where nearby iPad or iPhone users can browse through magazine titles for free while in the connected area.
The idea is that, iOS users might be more likely to purchase a magazine, or even subscribe to a title, after they’ve looked through a publication while hanging out in the virtual newsstand. Since the service would be conditional on how far the user is from the iBeacon transmitter (in this case, the ByPlace), the magazine would no longer be available if he or she walked out of the area. If the reader liked the magazine enough, a purchase could be made.
Exact Editions says that the ByPlace transmitter would make it possible for publishers to reach niche audiences by having the device in corresponding areas. For example, Car and Driver would be perfect in the lobby of a car lot. Health magazines could be made available in doctor’s office waiting rooms.
According to Exact Editions, ByPlace has already been implemented around the world. The Metropolitan Opera House in New York offers Opera Magazine. The Westminster Cathedral in the Vatican offers the Catholic Herald. A pub in London has two titles available for its patrons.
I’d like to see a wider offering of options with ByPlace. It would great if airport waiting areas offered a big selection of different titles so that users could find the right magazine for the trip ahead. Suburban malls could have virtual kiosks where, shoppers could sit down to rest their feet and find a magazine to read while they waited.
The potential for uses with Apple’s iBeacon technology is widespread. Macy’s has already begun testing technology that offers deals to shoppers based on where they are located within the store. Major League Baseball recently announced that it plans to use iBeacon technology to let fans know about concessions and merchandise based on where they are seated in stadiums.
If iBeacon takes off, the world might start looking more like the sci-fi movies we watched as kids. All we need now are chip implants in our eyeballs.