It’s virtually impossible to know what you’ll be doing in 2 years time… you could take an educated guess but that’s about as close as you’ll get - unless you have a De Lorean, with a flux capacitor fitted!
However, iBeacon manufactures seem to have the ability to see into the future. They’ve consistently claimed to offer 2 years battery life. As a side note, we’ve never managed to extract more than 6 months, out of any iBeacon power unit. In fact, we’ve set a record of just 2 weeks, to burn through a brand new battery.
At Journification, we operate in a number of environments and locations. Our clients all have different needs and expectations but they share a common goal, consistent iBeacon uptime. They know this guarantees a great user experience. And this is where we see things differently, to most iBeacon manufacturers.
3 issues concern our clients, when we discuss hardware:
- How are they powered
- How easy are they to maintain
- Do they have to be visible
Interestingly, hardly anyone cares what an iBeacon looks like!
Within the Journification team, we have experience of running big-box stores and we’ve run high profile, short term events. This means we’re very qualified to know what problems ‘little things’ things can cause. iBeacons are by design, ‘little things’.
It’s true, battery powered iBeacons can be deployed and installed quickly but they come with significant drawbacks, especially in high footfall locations - the constant connection to smartphones, discharges batteries quickly.
Battery iBeacons also have limited broadcast range and suffer significantly reduced range, when transmitting through walls and glass - a problem if you want to trigger messaging through a window display, for example. There’s also the increased maintenance demand, which ensures uptime.
In a small area iBeacons can be managed easily. In bigger deployments, like a festival site, or throughout an entire retail estate, this is much more of a challenge. A challenge which brings spiralling costs and negative environmental issues, into sharp focus. Imagine having to send out a maintenance crew every week, to over 100 stores, just to replace iBeacon batteries!
Therefore, it’s interesting for us to observe that iBeacon manufacturers continue to raise large VC investment, which never seems to address the battery problem significantly.
Indeed, we see this investment being spent on more design elements, sourcing slightly bigger batteries and the development of software platforms. And as we’ve identified, design is insignificant. A slightly bigger battery might mean slightly more life and software is not in the manufacturers wheelhouse - so beware!!! Plus we’d be reluctant to get into a situation where every iBeacon in your estate sat on a proprietary platform - imagine the chaos if the manufacturer went out of business… there’s that old saying ‘ never put all your eggs in one basket’.
As Journification moves forward as a business, we’re constantly evaluating alternative iBeacon solutions. We’re categorising and recording the type of situations where a battery iBeacon is relevant and more importantly we’re identifying where we can deploy mains powered iBeacons - surely the future of this technology?
In July 2014, 96% of our client meetings ended with the client stating a strong preference, for mains powered hardware. They listed several important benefits when making this decision.
We concur, so we’ve started to work with a business developing mains powered iBeacons and we’ve been introduced to another, who we are providing our consulting services to!
The mains powered iBeacon we are helping to develop (trailing the units and providing rich data feedback) are gathering significant attention amongst our client base. We’re thrilled, because many of our clients are global brands and potentially want to take this hardware into their retail and lifestyle locations around the world.
We’re also leading a collaboration of companies, which could ultimately see us become the biggest iBeacon hardware operator, in the world. So, we share a common bond with our clients.
In an always on, always connected world, we can’t endorse a situation where changing iBeacon batteries every 2 weeks is acceptable. We want to utilise mains power, to deploy-and-forget iBeacons and then concentrate on thinking about how we can better connect to our consumers.
If you’d like to know more about mains powered iBeacons and the amazing capabilities they offer over their battery powered cousins, or if you want to sense check those small instances, where battery power is a good idea and may be essential, call us.
Journification is a completely independent business and we have yet to endorse an iBeacon manufacturer. Our app solutions are agnostic but we hope it’s pretty clear, our roadmap will be see us mix 80% mains, with 20% battery hardware.