Qualcomm to spin off its Retail Solutions wing, as proximity market hots up

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Growing momentum in the location-based services market has led Qualcomm to spin off its Retail Solutions business (QRS), with further plans to promote geofencing and proximity beacons. 

The US-based vendor will rebrand the new standalone company as Gimbal, the name of QRS's context aware and proximity platform. This enables brands to communicate with customers through personalised communications to their smart device. 

The platform uses location aware Bluetooth Smart beacon technology and also provides analytics software as well as geofencing management solutions. Retailers and other interested parties can receive an SDK for Android and iOS handsets.

Interest in beacon technology has been steadily increasing, as retailers look to use their customers' smartphones to market products, services and loyalty. ABI Research recently predicted 2014 would be a "breakout" year for location technology.

UK operator joint venture Weve is using beacon technology for its loyalty service for operators. It is trialling the technology in cafe chain Eat, with consumers being sent location based offers and promotions to their mobile phones. The JV is using Apple's iBeacon software protocols, although it has sourced the hardware from a third party supplier.

Derek Aberle, President of Qualcomm Incorporated, said: "Enabling proximal, contextually relevant experiences is an important element of our vision to bridge the digital and physical worlds across retailing, advertising, social networking and other use cases, and Gimbal is well positioned to continue to drive industry leadership."

Rocco Fabiano, the current president of QRS, will stay on as the head of Gimbal. Qualcomm has invested in the company, with other shareholders including the i-Hatch location based services fund. The deal is expected to complete by the end of this month.

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