So instead let’s look at a few players and match them to the framework.
Based in Poland, with a brilliant flair for industrial design and an ability to market themselves without actually having many (or any) marketers on staff. They started off entirely focused as a Beacon OEM, by doing that they became the defacto leader as they didn’t compete with others building out other layers of the stack. Given that the only folks making much money on beacon hardware are the Chipset vendors, it has made sense for them to build out a Fleet Management capability.
Have offered multiple beacon models from early on. An entry level S10, which runs off a coin cell battery (the ubiquitous 2032 that has been widely adopted by beacon manufacturers). They have used this to engage developers and for applications where small size and low cost is important Vs longer battery life. The S10 is the lowest priced beacon on the market at $5 for single quantities. It was originally designed to fit on shoe laces and in back packs for the tracking of children as part of an amber alert project. Their larger beacon was designed for applications where battery life needed to be maximized. The S20/21 runs off of four double AA batteries and is the model that you can still see in use at Apple’s retail stores by their own shopping app (look carefully behind the “J” hooks and under the accessory shelves).
Have been focused on the hardware and API components of beacon systems, with a lead in USB powered beacons, making a play in the standards area with their Altbeacon standard which offers APIs and a specification for beacon packets that could work across Android and iOS. As a consequence exercising good “lane discipline” (not sticking their fingers in other people’s lines of business) they have been a go-to-partner for the likes of Samsung, who are aspiring to dominate a large portion of the rest of the stack.
Lighthouse and Urban Airship – are examples of Campaign Management providers unencumbered by producing beacon hardware. Lighthouse built their offering from scratch, while Urban Airship extended from an adjacent market (SMS campaigns).
Have been working in the proximity area for years with their gamified shopping app. As a result they have enjoyed a significant lead in signing up and deploying beacons as a fast-follow upgrade to their sonic hardware that authenticates shoppers’ presence in stores. With millions of users already using their app prior to the existence of Bluetooth beacons, ShopKick probably has more production users than any other player now that they have switched to that technology. Since the acquisition or “merger” with SK Planet, they also have a huge advantage being one of the few Beacosystem companies that merchants don’t have to worry about Google buying. The last thing merchants want is to find Google beacons stuck to their shelves. The question is, what will ShopKick do with that beacon infrastructure sitting in some of the world’s prime retailers. Will they rely on their app to monetize it, or open up access to third party apps in partnership with their retailers?