Is Google Eddystone All That?

July 14, 2015, 1:04 p.m.
Patrick Connolly, Principal Analyst

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So very quickly, Eddystone is Google’s new BLE Beacon standard that essentially broadcasts three distinct signal types; UUID( as per iBeacon standard), URL (as per URIBeacon standard) and TLM a new telemetry signal.

For those of you already familiar with Google’s URIBeacon standard, Eddystone allows you to broadcast a URL much like a scanned QR code. But more importantly, it also provides a link between the user and Googles all-encompassing Physical Web project. The beauty of this from an app perspective is that each retailer/beacon network does not require a separate application. AS regards the Physical Web, it will now migrate to Eddystone from URIBeacon.

 Broadcasting a UUID seems almost like a step backwards but it provides continuity for those that are looking to develop their own app and have been considering iBeacons. Now they must also consider an Eddystone Beacon, given that it has so much more potential.

The TLM broadcast is really where the innovation is in Eddystone, as it is designed to support transmission of telemetry data such as sensor information which is perfect for smart cities and industrial applications. AS discussed in ABI Research’s upcoming report on BLE Beacons, the potential in industrial and smart cities applications is  huge and potentially a much bigger long term revenue source. TLM will significantly increase the adoption of BLE Beacons in this space.  Take something as simple as monitoring a drinks vending machine, a market where 100,000s of beacons are currently being deployed. TLM will make it much easier to take sensor readings from these devices remotely, to ensure everything is working correctly, saving significant revenue in maintenance and lost sales due to broken equipment, or stock-outs.

Finally, the EiD security feature will very much lend itself to markets like personal asset tracking, connected home, industrial asset tracking and corporate deployments. This feature is being overlooked in many of the discussions I have seen, but it is definitely a step in the right direction in supporting these types of services.

Personally, I think Google has had the foresight to look beyond just the retail opportunity and has now created a standard that will support growth in new markets such as Industrial, connected home, personal tracking and smart cities. These are verticals that are all covered in our upcoming BLE Beacon report, and represent a much bigger part of the BLE Beacon market than retail by 2020. No doubt Apple is not sitting on its laurels with iBeacon but this is a big step in the right direction for Google, as it now positions itself as the go-to standard just as these markets are beginning to take off; much like iBeacon did in retail almost 2 years ago. Google has also worked very closely with OEMs with most ready to launch today with information on how they are supporting Eddystone and how the standard will change the industry.

Google is building in deep Android integration and looking more broadly, Google has recently announced Weave and Brillo which when combined with the Physical Web and Eddystone represents key building blocks in its overall IoT strategy.  

third secure layer for personal applications, most likely for connected home, industrial, personal tracking, etc.

I have spoken to most major BLE Beacon OEMs over the past 2 months and while there was a lot of speculation on a new standard that would blow everything out of the water (i.e. Eddystone), there was a mixed feeling about the potential or URIBeacon and the Physical Web. Some OEMs were holding off support for Google until the market became a little clearer. I think questions still remain over the Physical Web in the context of beacon adoption over the next 2 years, but certainly Eddystone is a much stronger standard than URIBeacon and has the potential to own the majority of non-retail BLE Beacon markets.