Why Bluetooth Will Not be an Obstacle for IoT Sensor Adoption
Consumers have increasing numbers of reasons to keep that Bluetooth setting on their connected devices, writes Proxbook's Romet Kallas.
While it seems the Bluetooth Smart (Bluetooth 4.0) “battery drainage” misconception is passing, there is another typical question that pops up every time when talking about sensor adoption: “How many smartphone devices have Bluetooth ON and will it be an obstacle?” The answer is NO, it will not be an obstacle and here is why.
How many users have Bluetooth on?
Whether you are a marketer, brand, retailer, advertiser, investor or even a beacon provider, this is one of the first questions when it comes to proximity marketing with Bluetooth beacons. And rightly so, because there just isn’t a lot of data out there. Here are stats that companies within the IoT sensor industry have reported so far:
- Beekn reported on 2014 that on average 33 percent of users have Bluetooth on:
- Rover reported on 2015 that on average 40 percent of users have Bluetooth on:
- Google reported on 2016 that on average 50 percent of users have Bluetooth on
Now you are wondering “so what if 50 percent have Bluetooth on, it’s only half, how are we going to get to 100 percent”? Fair question, and here is how:
People will get smarter when asking permissions
For those of you who don’t know, a mobile app can ask to turn on Bluetooth (just like it can with Location). Stop going for the default messaging such as “this app would like you to turn on Bluetooth.” Instead make it clear for your users what will they receive, what is the benefit. Just think about it, would you turn on Bluetooth (or location) without knowing what’s going to happen next? I wouldn’t.
Ok, this is more of a reactive approach with the Bluetooth “problem.” This will not get us to 100 percent, what else?
iPhone 7 – surprise, surprise there is no jack
You have probably read about the new iPhone 7 is shipped without a headphone jack. What does it mean? It means Bluetooth headphones and a lot of them – Bluetooth headsets already account for 54 percent sales in the US. Apple gave birth to the today’s smartphone with the 3.5mm headphone jack and now they have decided to kill it. Others have already started to follow and why wouldn’t they? Bluetooth headphones have improved immensely in sound and battery life within the past few years and will get even better by the end of the decade.
Whether you are already a smartwatch fan or don’t really know how to feel about them yet, they are here to stay. According to Forbes, 322.69 million wearable devices will be sold globally in 2017, mainly driven by smartwatches and wristbands. According to IDC, Apple is currently dominating the smartwatch market with estimated 53.2 percent market share and Google at 22.9 percent by end of 2016. Apparently, we are looking at another battle of Google vs Apple, because IDC has forecasted that by end of 2020, the giants will be fighting head to head with 43.8 percent vs 41.8 percent market share, Apple slightly ahead. Oh and did I mention that the quickest way to connect your wearables to smartphones and computers is through Bluetooth.
It’s not only about connecting wearables to smartphones or computers. A lot of new PC hardware works on Bluetooth like keyboards and mice. And also connecting all your devices to each other. Have you ever used Airdrop? It’s amazing, you have Apple devices in proximity and you can send files to another device with lightning speed. Ever wondered how it works? With Bluetooth and Wi-Fi of course. And while Google and Microsoft are dragging behind with such a smooth feature – it is only a matter of time when they solve it. Hence more Bluetooth. And with the Bluetooth 5.0 coming out soon, it will make even more sense to use the technology for connecting all the smart devices.
Did you know that 90 percent of new cars that are shipped by end of 2016 will be Bluetooth enabled? The easiest and most practical features are taking calls and listening to music by pairing your smartphone with the car. There are also more advanced features such as using your smartphone as a car key. On top of that, car makers such as Tesla and Volkswagen are implementing Bluetooth Low Energy technology into the key fob itself, so you can use the find my key feature and connect it to other Bluetooth enabled devices.
Virtual reality and Augmented reality accessories
As Virtual Reality is gaining traction so are the accessories that come with it. Take Pokemon GO, the game that has 30M daily active users, launched a Pokemon GO Plus accessory. Pokemon Go Plus is a Bluetooth accessory, made by Nintendo which interacts with the main app, counts your steps and helps to catch Pokemon. Another example is the recently leaked news about Snapchat’s (150M daily active users) smart sunglasses. While there aren’t any official statements how it’s actually going to work, it’s a safe bet that in order to view the content you create through the glasses in your smartphone, you need to connect them with Bluetooth.
Mystery Apple wireless device
Last but not least a new Apple device has just passed through the FCC and yes, it will come with Bluetooth and NFC. Is this the new iBeacon 2.0, a new Point of Sale system or anything else? Only Apple knows, but it is going to be a low-powered device which doesn’t seem to line up with any known Apple products. Either way, it will involve proximity as you cannot use NFC no further than 20cm and Bluetooth no further than ~50m for it to work effectively.
If you are still not convinced that Bluetooth is here to stay, consider this – both Apple and Google are making heavy investments into Bluetooth technologies. As it happens those companies also own 95.6 percent of the global smartphone market. Do you really think Bluetooth is going to be an obstacle?
*Romet Kallas is Product Manager of Proxbook, the industry directory of proximity companies with +350 members. While the proximity market is in a young and exciting phase, Romet is working towards growing and educating the world on proximity. Working closely with all of the industry players, he is aware of the challenges, trends and latest news from the market. Proxbook is initiated by Unacast, the backend of Proximity. Unacast powers the world’s largest network of proximity companies, enabling brands and retailers to use proximity data at scale for retargeting and attribution.