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Apple's Acquisition of WifiSLAM: Is There Marketing Potential?
Posted on March 29th 2013
Marketers have become obsessed with specificity. They want to know where you are, what you’re doing and when you’re doing it. This eagerness to pinpoint consumer locations and actions could be one of the reasons why Apple bought WifiSLAM, an indoor location tracker company, for $20 million.
WifiSLAM has the potential to identify your exact location within a 2.5-meter radius. According to its company profile on Angel List, the software uses “ambient WiFi signals that are already present in buildings.”
Google already provides indoor mapping technology, but it’s limited and mostly available in airports or malls. Apple could use this newly acquired technology to catapult itself back in the game after the devastating fail of its Maps app. Rumors suggest Apple might use this highly sensitive GPS location software to strengthen its own mapping capabilities. But, Apple might benefit more by taking another route. How about using WifiSLAM for close proximity-based marketing and brand engagement?
If Apple wants to distinguish itself from the rest of the marketing industry and prove that it’s a truly innovative company, it might want to start branching out from its traditional focus.
Potentially, brands could collaborate with social apps (like Facebook or Twitter) using Apple’s super sensitive GPS technology, which could allow consumers to check-in at specific sections within actual stores. Once checked in, brands could provide offers for related products. For example: Say you were at Target and Sony was offering a specific sale for followers on its television sets. You could check-in to the “Electronics” area using Apple’s WifiSLAM software and look at the available offers. When you find the Sony offer, you could redeem it on your phone and use it at the checkout.
A service like this could set Apple above the rest and establish it as an online marketing company. It would allow consumers to use offers for in-store purchases and promote engagement with brands.
Though Apple has not specified any details regarding the WifiSLAM acquisition, I have a feeling its part of a big plan that could change the future of location specific marketing. However, you have to wonder—would this give marketers too much information about consumers?