This Competitive Assessment has traditionally focused primarily on the indoor location technology market in retail. As the market has expanded, it now includes parameters such as the ability to support advertising, analytics, mobile application services, developer support, network management, etc.
From a technology standpoint, there are a variety of proprietary indoor technologies under consideration in this year’s assessment. The market can be easily split into two categories. The first is handset-based solutions that use readily-available RF signals, visible light, audio, magnetic field, and integrated features such as sensor fusion to locate a device indoors. This can be achieved at low cost but accuracy is subject to the particular RF environment of an indoor location as well as the availability of APIs to access RF information. The second is infrastructure-based solutions that use dedicated infrastructure positioned throughout an indoor environment to achieve consistently high accuracy, with a corresponding cost.
While beacons were very much a buzzword in 2015, behind the scenes there have been significant advancements in sensor fusion, magnetic field, 3D sensors, and next-generation Wi-Fi and beacon technologies. The result is a very fluid competitive environment with some very exciting start-ups, as well as major technology vendors like Facebook, WeChat, Apple, and Google looking to leverage their dominant mobile position.
As the market evolves, lessons have been learned from initial deployments and a clearer picture is emerging on how to build services on top of these technologies for different retail verticals. Revenue is increasingly driven from services such as analytics, in-app engagement, and longer-term proximity-based advertising. As a result, we are seeing a combination of established vendors, internet giants, and new start-ups focusing on advertising, analytics, and infrastructure management.