Apple Inc. (AAPL): The iBeacon Opportunity Is Huge

“We can find out where you are standing and how long you’ve been standing in front of the Michael Kors handbag and if you haven’t purchased. And if you haven’t, I’ll send you a little note to give you encouragement to do so,” Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M) Chief Executive Officer Terry Lundgren told Bidness Etc.

Macy’s is just one of the big-name partners working with a startup called Shopkick that has created an app for retailers to leverage the iBeacon technology. Others include American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE: AEO), Safeway Inc. (NYSE: SWY), and Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT). So far the app has been downloaded 6 million times.

Of course, Apple also uses iBeacon in its own retail stores.

But iBeacon has uses beyond retail…

The iBeacon Opportunity for Apple Stock Is Huge

Other uses for iBeacon include museums and restaurants as well as attractions like amusement parks and zoos.

One pioneer in this area is Major League Baseball, which in the offseason equipped 20 of its ballparks with iBeacon technology which work with a free MLB-created app, “At the Ballpark.”

The app includes a map and directory so fans can not only find their seats, but the nearest restroom, food vendor, or beer vendor. And as with retailers, MLB’s iBeacon also can offer fans deals on food or club merchandise.

So it’s clear that iBeacon is rapidly gaining traction. But how will this help Apple, and especially Apple stock?

The beacons themselves are cheap, and other vendors are selling them – this is an open technology anyone can use, which also means it can work with Android-powered devices (provided they have BLE) in addition to Apple’s iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches.

If Apple can link a payment system to iBeacon, it could take a percentage of sales or perhaps charge a small license fee for use of the technology.

This is a very tempting avenue, as Apple already has its Passbook app, which serves as a digital repository for such things as plane boarding passes and tickets to concerts.

Apple could easily add electronic payments to Passbook and pair it with its Touch ID technology for security and verification. People could purchase goods and services just by pushing one button, and they wouldn’t need to be anywhere near a cash register.

Right now Touch ID is only on the iPhone 5s, but it will certainly be included in the iPhone 6 and almost as certainly on the next-generation iPod Touch and iPad Air.

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