Report forecasts rapid beacon uptake by market segments beyond retail

New research reveals BLE beacon shipments continue to grow rapidly in new market segments

The uptake of beacon technology has become a talking point in the retail sector for some time now, but BLE beacon shipments is set to grow rapidly to new market segments far beyond the retail sector, a new report found.

ABI Research has forecast the amount of BLE beacon shipments made in the personal tracking, IoT, and real-time location system (RTLS)/asset tracking markets will easily surpass those in retail. Meanwhile the overall BLE beacon market continues to grow rapidly with shipments set to break 500 million units by 2021.

"While retail is forecast to remain a major market today for BLE beacons, we are increasingly seeing shipments into these new markets," ABI Research principal analyst, Patrick Connolly, said. "Personal tracking is now the largest individual market of the group, with market leader Tile shipping over six million BLE beacons alone. In RTLS/asset tracking, a range of new, high-accuracy BLE beacon technologies, designed specifically for this market, will offer a significant cost improvement on traditional technologies."

In the IoT space, ABI Research forecast BLE, combined with LPWAN technologies, will eventually support large scale deployments in smart cities. Another emerging trend will be the shift to software-based beacons, in which vendors leverage integrated BLE ICs as beacons and virtual beacons, the report found.

"The retail market continues to be the big money generator in terms of overall revenue," Connolly added. "Google Nearby, a new feature that automatically alerts people when an app is available for a nearby store that is relevant to their shopping preferences, did not receive the fanfare it deserved and could be a major game changer for the market. However, the RTLS/asset tracking market may be a much better bet for hardware vendors, where the potential is huge and the revenue is tied up in hardware and software rather than services and advertising."

While the competitive landscape largely remains the same and major BLE beacon vendors continuing to dominate, the report revealed Sensoro recently broke the 300,000 BLE beacon shipment milestone and looks well-positioned to become a top three vendor. But the report highlighted the spotlight will be on the start-ups developing proprietary solutions to meet specific market needs in terms of accuracy and cos

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