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. . . A little stingy with the "likes"? Yeah, me too. . . . Wonky (adj.): askew, awry, unsteady, off-kilter. Like gadgets or stock markets. Techwonk (me): someone who likes wonky stuff. . . disclosure: some posts may include input from other, uncredited sources (hi, uncle Fred) .
  • What Apple Bought For 2 Cents Per Share 3 comments
    Mar 25, 2013 6:57 PM | about stocks: AAPL

    Disclosure: I actively trade Apple directional options on earnings and news.


    Links will follow in the comments section below this blog entry.

    "Quoth the Raven" is another Seeking Alpha member who was written on this acquisition and what application deveoment may result.


    This weekend the acquisition by Apple of a tiny startup, WifiSlam, was noted by the financial press. WifiSlam specializes in a niche area of mobile computing that involves the use of wifi technology indoors to facilitate mobile maps and related applications.

    Although often described with reference to GPS, such systems are not truly Global Positioning Systems. They have a much narrower range, but still may piggyback onto the existing locational tools inside a mobile device.

    Apple reportedly paid $20 million to acquire the company. Apple has almost a billion shares outstanding, so the purchase cost debit to Apple's earnings is a little more than 2 cents - comfortably within affordable range for a corporation that last quarter earned $44 a share.

    So what's the technology worth in terms of future growth? That's going to be on the minds of investors. Apple is usually reticent to give a preview of its future plans, and it may take several months before the new technology is integrated with Apple's other initiatives.

    But we can make some guesses as to what Apple's choices and alternatives are, based on how similar technology is already used and what other firms are planning.

    An obvious answer is improving Apple maps. Imagine having a directory that shows "you are here" and moves as you move. Though existing wifi mapping systems are accurate to only about 6 feet, that is plenty close enough to put you within eyesight range of your car when you are lost in a large parking lot. Wifi antennas on lampposts could provide the directional signals; this kind of antenna is already in use in some civic local-area networks.

    Interactive applications for your mobile could be designed to allow you to ask "show me how to find it" questions, and then make location-related notes.

    Shopping malls, trade shows, conventions, swap meets, and large libraries are some of the environments which may find uses for indoor locator services.

    Beyond displaying information, there are merchandising possibilities, which could produce revenue for Apple or for app developers through fee-supported service structures.

    User tracking allows content to be delivered within small broadcast areas targeted to specific needs.

    Technologies already in use to track consumer behavior in stores include locator beacons, wifi network usage tools, and QR-codes that are photographed with smartphone camera. Even in-store video cameras are used for the purpose of tracking customer responses, and not just to deter shoplifting.

    Mapping could provide a way of representing all this information more efficiently.

    Retailer promotions that could be tied to mapping include mobile delivery of in-store shopper coupons, sale notifications, new product suggestions, and shopper reminders. Some stores already have these services available on their Wifi networks to customers who opt-in, but minus the mapping feature. Apple iPhone Passbook already provides GPS-based prompts when shoppers pass a store where they have a shopper's card.

    Inventory control using RFID -- radio frequency identification, such as barcode scanners -- along with wifi are already in use by stores. This has been focused so far on the employee side. As services for customers become more common, you may one day have a mobile app that allows you to check off items on your grocery list and then prompts you if you missed an item before you leave the aisle - no more wandering around the store.

    Shopper tracking could also allow stores to open additional cash registers when lines form, or receive prompts to restock. Disney already uses RFID bracelets for access to theme parks and crowd control.

    Disney's system also allows for personalization of services via data sharing over the wifi network, such as visitors being greeted by name by staffers.

    Beyond this, wifi mapping could one day be used to add mobile multimedia interaction for theme park customers. Similar uses could be developed for people attending a concert, visiting a museum, or at a variety of other events.

    Services for the "smart home" are also possible. Products are already on the market or in development that allow RFID tagging of packing boxes for residential moves, and "find my car keys" devices. Homes with wifi hotspots could eventually tie services like these to a map of the residence.

    "Smart devices" like wifi-enabled thermostats and outdoor lighting already exist. iPhone applications have been available since 2010 for interacting with home controls hardware manufactured by Lutron and other companies. Mobile mapping applications could make these easier to use, and speed the development of what has been called "the Internet of things".

    None of these items are beyond the capacity of the present technology. As developers stretch further, they will doubtless come up with uses that are more surprising and unexpected.

    Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, but may initiate a long position in AAPL over the next 72 hours.

    Themes: wifi Stocks: AAPL
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  • techwonk
    , contributor
    Comments (285) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » Here are links to articles and web pages.


    Stanford tech incubator info about WifiSlam:


    Funding info for WifiSlam:


    New York Times, on Disney: This initiative by Disney incorporates both RFID and mobile.



    Deloitte, analysis on the adoption by stores of mobile content marketing:



    Nearbuy, a services provider:



    USA Today, on consumer tracking more broadly:



    Internet Retailer, on the iPhone shopper card app:

    25 Mar 2013, 07:26 PM Reply Like
  • techwonk
    , contributor
    Comments (285) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » Will post more links as available.


    iPhone "smart home" apps:



    QR codes in marketing, reviewed on Mashable. Note the mention of Google Maps on example 9.



    Motley Fool on previous acquisitions by Apple:

    25 Mar 2013, 10:44 PM Reply Like
  • techwonk
    , contributor
    Comments (285) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » Article by Quoth the Raven on Seeking Alpha:



    Article on The Next Web, with images (they say) of how WiFiSlam works:

    26 Mar 2013, 07:45 PM Reply Like
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