Apple’s new near field identification technology is really getting a lot of press lately. Last week, we found out that Apple rolled out iBeacon transmitters across 254 of its retail stores to demonstrate what the technology can do. Plus, software company Exact Editions announced plans to make full magazine editions available to “browse” for free in specified locations with the BySpace transmitter.
In direct competition with Apple’s iBeacon, Qualcomm recently announced the launch of a line of similar proximity beacons that will allow users to provide content to passersby through their iOS or Android device.
According to the company’s recent press release, the Gimbal is a proximity beacon that allows providers to send “personalized high-value content to enhance their users’ mobile devices.” The technology currently supports iOS and will support Android in the near future.
“With the availability of Gimbal proximity beacons, we are empowering brands to take mobile engagement with their customers to a whole new level through micro-location,” said Rocco Fabiano, president of Qualcomm Retail Solutions. “Gimbal – with its proximity beacons that use low-energy Bluetooth Smart – is the complete package. Given the affordable pricing of the beacons, retailers and venue operators can install a network for customer engagement that is both more accurate and less expensive than other location-based systems.”
Qualcomm’s Gimbal platform is very similar to Apple’s iBeacon technology. However, the Gimbal platform is expected to be available in a wider variety of mobile devices. Apple isn’t likely to offer the iBeacon software on Android, making it highly likely that it will be pushed out of the market by a more widely compatible platform. Android still outsells iOS. Qualcomm’s Gimbal transmitter would make a much more enticing investment since it will eventually support both of the most popular mobile operating systems in the world.
Apple has two options in order to not completely lose the proximity transmitter market share. The company can either offer iBeacon across multiple platforms, or successful sue Qualcomm for patent infringement. Knowing Apple’s history, the latter is more likely the option they will choose.