There are already hundreds of companies selling beacons, Connolly said; ABI ranks Aruba as one of the top 25 in indoor location technology. Competitors include Cisco, Ruckus Wireless and Zebra for networking elements, and even Facebook and WeChat for apps. While Connolly described the indoor and proximity location market vendor ecosystem as "huge," he said that retailers have been "rightly very cautious" about deployments.
Beacons will be used in large schools, hospitals, airports and smart cities, as well as retail locations, he predicted.
"Despite recent media reports, the market is actually outperforming our initial forecasts," Connolly added. "We expect to see many winners across different vertical and regions. Indoor location is a utility just like electricity or heating and likewise will become commonplace everywhere. It is a huge greenfield space and the land grab is on."
Aruba can benefit from its status as a unit within HP, Connolly said. Customers already running HP servers could use beacons to help staff members find available meeting rooms in large corporate buildings, for example.
IDC analyst Rohit Mehra said an IDC survey shows that 40% of a few key industries plan to expand the use of Bluetooth Low Energy beacons for location-based services (LBS) in one to two years. However, institutions like OU won't necessarily be big players with beacons, he predicted.
"Where the rubber meets the road, where beacons provide real value, will be in retail, hospitality, public venues like stadiums and in transportation and logistics," he said.
The ultimate success of beacons will rely on a combination of Bluetooth beacons in a network that also includes Wi-Fi, he said. "To manage beacons, you need a Wi-Fi infrastructure.
"My view is that we have gone through some kind of illusion initially in terms of the rapid or explosive growth of Bluetooth Low Energy beacons," Mehra said.
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