Apple to start following you around its stores, report says

Apple stores are reportedly about to be equipped with iBeacon transmitters that connect to iPhones. These are intended to enhance your shopping experience.

A greeting from the iBeacon system at Citi Field. Roger Cheng/CNET

There are so many people in Apple stores these days that it's hard to hear conversations or even think straight.

That, perhaps, is one of the small reasons that the company is reported to be implementing its iBeacon system, which is designed to make your shopping experience even more experiential.

iBeacon was slipped onto iOS 7 as a surprise, something that portended the future.

And, as my colleague Roger Cheng experienced , it's already being experimented with by Major League Baseball at the New York Mets' Citi Field. There's certainly the need for a better experience there.

Now, as 9to5Mac reports, Apple stores are to be graced with iBeacon transmitters on the tables that normally only house well spaced-out products.

If this was the case, how might people's shopping experience be improved? And how much might this make customers a touch uncomfortable?

The transmitters would connect to your iPhone and be able, at the very least, to send you interesting messages as you peer at, say, an iPad mini.

These messages might merely offer more product information or invitations to workshops.

Those with a darker side mentality might conceive, however, that they might be able to identify you and offer, say: "Hey, you've had your iPad for two years now. How does that look when you're out and about? Time for the new, sexy iPad Air, no?"

Stores such as Nordstrom have already enjoyed quite some controversy when customers discovered they were being tracked as they wandered through. In Nordstrom's case, it discontinued the experiment.

But retailers such as Old Navy are using all sorts of technology to learn more about you.

I have contacted Apple to ask whether the technology is, indeed, being implemented and whether self-imposed limits will be placed on its operation.

Such technologies always walk the line between intrusion and flattery. For every message that appears to be personalized, there is the accompanying thought that these people know more and more about you.

In any case, if iBeacon will be telling you all you need to know about particular products, what are all the nice men and women in blue polo shirts going to be doing?

Will they all be turned into Geniuses?

 

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