Sometimes iBeacons technology is described as a competitor of NFC (Near Field Communication).
Tell you what: NFC and iBeacons are not enemies – each technology has a specific purpose, so they may reasonably complement each other very well, especially in the Retail environment.
NFC, in the form of cheap passive RfId tags or labels, are used to individually identify single items (and store any logistics data and other pertinent info, if needed).
Moreover, many credit cards (e.g. Visa) use NFC for contactless payments: just tap your NFC enabled card to the little box next to the POS and you are done (and no PIN is required if you pay less than a specified amount, for example €20).
NFC is also the chosen technology for millions of mass-transit contactless cards.
Is iBeacon technology going to replace NFC? (…to know more about iBeacon tech, feel free to download my white-paper titled “iBeacon Bible” from http://www.gaia-matrix.com)
My answer is “No, I don’t think so.”
You can’t – at least cheaply – create an “iBeacon-card” to keep in your pocket, or an “iBeacon-label” to stick on consumer products; especially in Retail, merchandise-tracking is still a crucial area for NFC: when I select a shirt and carry it to a changing room, this interaction won’t be visible to any iBeacon.
Therefore, to offer shoppers an extensive experience including smart interactions with products beyond confined areas like merchandising stands and shelves, a mixed solution involving both NFC and iBeacons definitely is the way to go.
Andy Cavallini (email@example.com)