when there are clear differences found after comparing beacon protocols, it's not a fight
Richard Graves
Co-founder | CEO

iBeacons vs. the Physical Web: Is there a clear winner?

But there are clear differences after comparing beacon protocols and we think one is better than the other. Here’s how they stack up.

  • iBeacon: Requires a dedicated App, dedicated to listen for that particular beacon’s signal.
    Physical Web: Any Physical Web browser or compatible mobile app will see all other Physical Web beacons within its immediate vicinity. With the phySDK from PHY.net, any app can add a “nearby” button that enables it to see Physical Web content.
  • iBeacon: More of an outbound strategy, as it monitors users and has push Interactions. It can wake a sleeping app to notify user of a particular message, offer or event.
  • Physical Web: More of an inbound strategy, since the core principle of the Physical Web is that there are no push notifications that wake the device. This means the user chooses to view beacons in the area and scan for beacons only when the screen is on.
  • iBeacon: Apps can be programmed to track visits and serve messages according to certain user types (first-time visitor, frequent visitor, etc.).
  • Physical Web: Just like any other website, user visits can be counted and recorded in “cookies,” enabling different messages being served to different user types (first-time visitor, frequent visitor, etc.).
  • iBeacon: Is location-based and records interaction “events,” enabling detailed reporting of dwell time and proximity to a beacon.
  • Physical Web: Is content-based and allows the monitoring of interactions of visited content.
  • iBeacon: Range depends on the beacon model, but BKON beacons range more than 300+ feet at full power.
  • Physical Web: Range is the same as iBeacon. Depending on the model, beacons range more than 300+ feet at full power.
  • iBeacon: The lifespan for a battery-powered iBeacon depends on the beacon model, battery type and settings (2+ years in some cases).
  • Physical Web: Battery life for a battery-powered Physical Web beacon depends on the beacon model, battery type and settings (up to 4 years). Also, since the devices that scan for Physical Web beacons only scan when the screen is on, battery life on the device itself is conserved.
  • iBeacon: Deployments are location-centered and are best at tracking customer movements.
  • Physical Web: Deployments are content-centered and are best at engaging consumers with valuable content.
  • iBeacon: Typically requires skilled installers and ongoing calibration with changes to the monitored area.
  • Physical Web: Typically can be managed by on-site personnel and is adaptive to frequent promotional changes.

Related: The New Conventional Wisdom: ‘Mythbusting’ iBeacon and the Physical Web

When comparing beacon protocols, better questions to ask are: What market you want to address, and is your primary goal is to understand customer movements or to focus on customer relationships?

Our beacons can be configured for iBeacon, but we champion the Physical Web for inbound proximity marketing. That’s why we ship our beacons configured for the Physical Web along with the software that makes them smarter.