Is Apple focusing on in-store location-based offering?
That appears to be the case after the company has purchased in-store GPS mapping company WifiSLAM for around $20 million, as The Wall Street Journal reports.
WifiSLAM is a two-year-old company that locates a user’s specific in-store location by using exiting Wi-Fi signals, as traditional GPS locator methods often don’t work indoors. According to the WSJ, the company has “been offering the technology to application developers for indoor mapping and new types of retail and social-networking apps.”
That makes plenty of sense, as better indoor location-based technology could allow for retailers and merchants to send out more targeted offerings to users in several ways. Retailers can incentivize consumers who are in malls to come directly into their stores, for example, or merchants can push ads based on which part of the store a customer is looking at once that customer is already in the store itself.
The WSJ interviewed Greg Sterling, analyst at Opus Research, who suggested that such information could be hugely important to retailers, provided that names of the users are omitted to protect privacy.
“There is a lot of money lurking in in-store merchandising,” Sterling said.
The purchase will also help Apple catch up to competitor Google, which already offers a somewhat similar service based on floor plans for its Android users, but has no such option for those using the iPhone. Samsung, Nokia and Qualcomm have partnered to improve indoor location-based technology as well.