The launch of Apple iBeacon two years ago was supposed to change shopping. What happened? While the GPS on your phone could reveal a particular store's location closest to you, iBeacons would go much farther. Advertisers would be able to determine exactly which aisle you are in and almost magically send coupons for the very products you happened to be viewing at that moment.
only 3 percent of retailers use beacons; just 16 percent had plans to try the technology in the foreseeable future. When Reveal Mobile, an analytics company, did a census of beacons in U.S. retail stores this spring, it found that Apple's own stores accounted for about 15 percent of the existing beacons. Companies that sell beacons to retailers struggle to point to big success stories. For the people who run startups such as Shopkick, InMarket, or Estimote, which are based on bets that beacons will soon be everywhere, the issue is more expectations than results. Sure, the startups admit, it’s been slow going, so far. But over the summer, both Facebook and Google announced new programs for their own beacons, joining Apple as tech giants behind the technology.