BLE set to explode in popularity, amid heavy competition

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Bluetooth Low Energy beacons are set to break through the 60 million unit mark by 2019, but the bulk of sales will not be from retail, despite recent hype about uses of the technology, new research has claimed.

A new report from ABI Research said it expects silos of beacon networks to emerge during the next five years, with connected home and personal asset tracking offering "huge potential" for companies.

However, it added the likes of Google and Apple, who have both recently unveiled connected home strategies, face challenges about how they can unite these into a coherent ecosystem.

Senior Analyst Patrick Connolly commented: "It may surprise many to see that retail is the smallest market covered in the report. In building terms, many stores are relatively small in comparison to a corporate office or hospital, while the items being tracked i.e. consumers, are already BLE-enabled through their smartphones, further limiting the number of beacons required.”

However, the research firm warned that companies faced challenges in making money from this area. The ongoing drop in the price of beacons, coupled with the sheer volume of companies working in this area, means high competition for a predicted €367m in hardware revenues, ABI Research said.

It warned margins were quickly disappearing but pointed out companies such as Quuppa, Sonic Notify and StickNFind are developing new location and range features to generate new sales.

Companies such as Gimbal, it added, were working on the management of beacon networks, which ABI said would grow long-term revenues.