In my last blog post, I argue that one of the main misconceptions surrounding the proximity industry is the confusion around cross-platform beacon support.
When people talk about beacons, Android is often left out of the conversation. Even after the release of Google's Eddystone beacon protocol, there hasn't been a lot of talk about the significance of Android in the proximity industry.
Now that Eddystone will be supported on the Android Chrome browser as well as on the iOS Chrome browser, you will hear a lot more about Eddystone going forward, and here is the reason:
800 million additional users ready to interact with beacons
Let's start with the fact that Android makes up 80% of the smartphone market. Subsequently, Android plays a significant role in the widespread adoption of beacons beyond the early adopters. According to ABI Research, over half of the 400M beacons in 2020 will be Eddystone enabled. For those of you who are new to the topic, Google's Eddystone beacon can broadcast a signal to a smartphone app, as well as a URL directly to the smartphone itself. The release of Android Chrome support for Eddystone enables 800 million additional users seamlessly to be able to interact with the Physical Web aka Eddystone-URL. This will result in an exponential growth in the number of beacon interactions, as well as more and more accurate location data.
As an Android user, does this mean that beacons are now able to overload my smartphone with all sorts of notifications? No, the URL notification is delivered in a passive and non-intrusive manner. The customer decides whether or not they would like to interact with the message. To give you a better understanding, it will look something like this:
It is worth mentioning that customer education will still be necessary. Why should one go into the notification centre in the first place if they don't know about the existence of the beacon content? We are yet to see if Android users will be able to opt-in to push notifications from Eddystone-URL web pages for example, but currently, it is not possible. Nevertheless, the Physical web gives brands and retailers a unique opportunity to reach new customers in a non-intrusive manner.
Funnel from website to app
One obstacle often related to beacon adoption is the app; what happens if the customer doesn't have the app? And this is where Eddystone really shines (excuse the pun), as the beacon can broadcast a URL and talk to an app at the same time. Meaning, that if one is looking to grow their app audience, the first interaction could be done via the Eddystone-URL; where it is important to present the value that the user can expect when downloading the app. After installing the app, the Eddystone-UID takes over, to provide additional app features like in-app notifications, navigation, digital signage or any other feature.
To conclude, Android Chrome support of Eddystone is yet another validation that 2016 is the year of the beacon, as 800 million additional Android users will be seamlessly able to interact with beacons. It reveals new scenarios for acquiring new customers for example by funneling a user to a website and then to the app. Most importantly, we believe that it helps companies kickstart their proximity campaigns if they have been hesitant so far due to lack of an app or big enough audience. Eddystone addresses both of these concerns.