iBeacon, Apple’s hyperlocal trigger tech in iOS 7, is an innovation that holds a lot of promise, and that will probably continue to make waves in the retail industry for a long time to come. One London-based company is using it in a slightly more novel way, employing them to help sell subscriptions to digital magazines.
Exact Editions is the company, and the digital publishing startup already makes magazines targeted at iPhone, iPad and Android devices. Some of their existing clients include Wire, Popshot Magazine, and Grand Designs, the magazine companion to the popular Channel 4 home renovation show. The use of iBeacons by Exact Editions is part of their ByPlace program, which launched earlier this year to help publishers specify certain locations where their titles could be available without the usual individual subscription fee.
The tech is very handy in a number of scenarios, as in a coffee shop for instance, where the establishment could subscribe and enable access to full magazines to patrons who come in. It’s made even more convenient with the addition of iBeacons on iOS, as the whole digital handshake can happen automatically, providing the user with the best possible and most frictionless experience. Another possible use is in modernizing the doctor’s office, offering up publications in the waiting room that are more useful and more current than five-year old issues of Good Housekeeping.
“As this is very much new technology we are showcasing it for the first time at Bar Kick in Shoreditch, London,” Exact Editions’ Daniel Hodgkin explained about the first real world use of the tech. “When in this bar, the soccer magazine ‘When Saturday Comes’ and the fashion and culture magazine ‘Dazed & Confused will be available.”
The benefit is supposedly two-fold for a digital magazine publisher: they can sell subscriptions to businesses and locations, which then expose that publication to their customers, some of whom come away from the specific spot wanting to subscribe to the pub themselves. It can also give venues like concert halls and stadiums a way to provide patrons with in-house pubs, as an added value thing to help bring them in the door.
It’s a clever way to make Newsstand titles more discoverable, in settings where people are likely to engage with publications more deeply than they might otherwise. That becomes even more important in the context of iOS 7, where some publishers are complaining that Apple’s redesign makes their newsstand titles harder for users to find and remember, hidden as they are behind a nondescript icon that users can bury in folders.
Implementing the iBeacons requires hardware triggers slightly larger than a quarter, which are installed at locations and alert devices in range they can access the full issues covered by the businesses’ subscriptions. But once installed, it’s mostly a fire-and-forget solution. This is a novel, intelligent use of iBeacons, and a perfect example of how we’ve only just begun to see the benefits of this new Apple tech.
Photo courtesy flickr user khawkins04.