iBeacons vs. NFC

With the introduction of the new iPhone generation, Apple is also fitting NFC chips into its smartphones. A good reason for Mobikon to ask Philipp Richter, Teamlead Development of Aperto Move, about the advantages and disadvantages of iBeacons and NFC.

What are the strengths of iBeacon technology and NFC?
The particular strength of iBeacon technology is it long range of up to 30 metres, which makes it possible to begin a dialogue with customers at an early stage, e.g., when they enter the shop, while they are looking into a shop window, standing in a queue or looking around in the shop thus giving you the chance to draw their attention to products or services that they are not focusing on at that moment. NFC on the other hand is very useful if you want to distinguish between the smartphones of different customers or products over very short distances (up to about 20 cm). Hence, it is suitable for continuing an existing dialogue in combination with iBeacons. Whereas iBeacon technology offers one-to-many communication, NFC is oriented towards one-to-one communication. Depending on the individual case, the properties of the two technologies can be an advantage or disadvantage in terms of price, energy efficiency and security.

For its new iPhones, Apple decided to integrate NFC technology – what is your opinion of this?
With this decision, Apple has gained a very strong position against Google’s Android because it means the iPhones have two complementary wireless technologies while Android’s iBeacon facility is still in its infancy. Thus, it is possible to implement innovative services that take advantage of the most suitable technology for any given set of circumstances. The technology itself is no longer in the spotlight: it permits the creation of new value added for the customer instead of acting as a driving force.

What do you recommend your customers in / for the trade?
That they employ a combination of the two complementary technologies, in accordance with their objectives and requirements.

What would be the ideal solution using the two technologies?
The creation of services with genuine value added for customers, which function on a supra-technology basis and offer users the best possible experience – only then will customers be willing to use the services offered.

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