The experience of choosing and ordering iBeacon

iBeacon , announced in the recent past by Apple micro-navigation and micro-positioning technology. iBeacon is a small (coin-sized) device that acts as a beacon. More specifically, it broadcasts via Bluetooth Low Energy a signal with its unique identifier. The beacon signal is detected by a smartphone with the ability to determine the distance to it. The detection range, depending on the model of the lighthouse, reaches 50-70 meters. The lighthouse operates autonomously from a battery that lasts from six months to two, or even up to three years.

Possible applications are limited only by imagination:
  • in-door navigation in shopping centers, at exhibitions and conferences;
  • in-place information and special offers for visitors to retail chains;
  • a smartphone - a guide in museums;
  • Smartphone - the key to an apartment, car, hotel room or pass to the office.

Inspired by these prospects, I decided, along with the marketing analysis, to “feel” the technology with my own hands, and ordered several trial copies.

Conditionally divided suppliers into three categories:
  • Chinese suppliers;
  • suppliers from “developed western” countries;
  • Western developers of turnkey solutions for specific tasks.

Below I will talk about the first two categories. The third deserves a separate post. By the way, at the end of the article there is a comparative table that includes the process of cargo delivery. Therefore, if you are too lazy to read the details - move immediately to it.

Chinese suppliers

I searched for Chinese suppliers through  , a marketplace for manufacturers. The request "iBeacon" issued about 400 positions from 30 manufacturers. A distinctive feature of this category is that they simply sell a piece of iron with documentation and a minimal set of tools for setting it up. In fact, this is a first-hand product.

Not all of the results turned out to be relevant; as a result, I requested samples for the test from about a dozen companies. In order to at least somehow reduce the risks, I contacted only suppliers with the Gold Supplier status. Then I chose based on the efficiency and quality of feedback.

I chose three suppliers, ordering 3-4 test samples from each:

In the process, refused:
  • Shenzhen Taida Century Technology Co., Ltd. - seemed analogous to Shenzhen Shuzhitong Technology Co., Ltd;
  • Hongrun Electronics (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd. - very sluggish feedback did not inspire confidence:
  • Aladintel Network Technology Pte. Ltd - likewise, unconvincing discouraged the desire to place an order.

Shenzhen Ankhmaway Electronic Technology Co., Ltd.

The guys respond quickly, willingly and clearly answer questions. The range consists of four models, characterized by a battery, the presence or absence of a plastic case and an antenna, on which the signal range depends. Together with beacons it provides a tool and an API for configuration. I chose two models:
  • iB001 : CR2032 battery, 40m range, with plastic case. $ 20
  • iB004 : CR2450 battery, 70m range, with plastic case. $ 25

Delivery via EMS Russian Post took 10 calendar days.

Shenzhen Minew Technologies Co., Ltd.

The result of a pleasant communication with the manager was the order of samples. It is difficult to highlight any features - the standard iBeacon functionality and the application for configuring beacons are declared. Models differ in color, you can also order a batch of your color for large volumes. The price for one lighthouse is $ 18. Delivery via EMS Russian Post took 7 calendar days.

Beijing Aprilbrother Technology Co., Ltd

Provides standard features compared to previous models. The piece of iron itself cost me $ 18.8. It is worth noting that I did not bargain on the price, because the main goal was to get and test devices from different suppliers, try to work with them. When ordering large batches, a discount is provided. Delivery via EMS Russian Post took 7 calendar days.

Suppliers from “developed western” countries

I mostly googled western beacon manufacturers individually. The article on turned out to be quite useful . A feature in this category is a more pleasant, and sometimes original, design of the device, and in general the presentation of the product. Also, companies from this category are trying to provide at least a minimal set of tools for convenient setting of beacons.

Out of ten options, I selected three suppliers for the test, who made the most pleasant impression with their openness and efficiency in communication:

Refused or postponed:
  • GeLo, USA, MI - in May, the release of an updated version of the devices is expected;
  • Gimbal by Qualcomm - do not work with Russia and position themselves as developers of the platform, and not a supplier of iron;
  • Sonic Notify - not ready to provide test samples; the solution is wider than the platform based on iBeacon;
  • Estimote - after pre-order you have to wait 6 weeks; seemed to me stingy in personal communication;
  • Sensorberg - did not respond to a request for test samples;
  • BlueSense Networks - did not contact after requesting test samples;
  • Radius Networks - did not contact after requesting test samples.

Friendly guys, with pleasure shared information about their product. Of the features: provide developers with access to the CMS to manage beacons, download content and set up rules for displaying it in a mobile application. The cost of one device when ordering a test batch is $ 27.

About delivery is worth telling separately. The supplier chose UPS, which turned out to be a fatal mistake. It took 15 days from the moment of sending to receipt, and one day for my trip to Vnukovo airport and customs clearance. Casting away the emotions experienced in the process, I will talk about the dry residue.

So. In case of shipment via UPS, the goods undergo customs clearance (in the case of EMS, it is either not present or it is transparent to the recipient in case of small loads). It is possible to clear customs clearance only on goods for which there is a “notification”. What is the "notification", how to find or get it UPS employees could not explain to me. Two weeks later they reported that the goods are most likely not to be released by customs, and I can come to deal with them myself. Arriving, I had to spend about two hours filling out various forms and preparing documents. UPS employees just printed out templates and invoices for me. As a result, a customs officer told me about the “notifications”. I managed to find a “notification” on the spot, after which “customs gave the go-ahead”, and the next day I received the package. By the way, here he is a screenshot at the cost of two weeks of cargo delay and one day of showdown on the spot. Thank you for helping the guys fromFacebook Theme Group .

Accent advanced systems

Pure suppliers of iron, but from Spain. One of the two models has a remote button on the lighthouse. The status of its pressing is transmitted along with the identifier signal. This allows you to build interesting logic. For example, to confirm the actual location of the user in the coverage area of ​​the beacon and protect against emulation and fraud. Fly in the ointment - button click status is supported by Android, and not supported by iOS.
The cost of one copy when ordering a test batch is € 20.

With delivery in this case, everything is also sad. The first package I received via TNT arrived at me 13 days after ordering. Opening it, I did not know whether to cry or laugh — only the cases from the devices arrived:

Accent Advanced Systems must be given credit. Immediately after my message about the patch, the manager sent me 4 devices at the expense of the company. But sent via UPS. What happened next? A customs clearance that did not pass due to the lack of “notification” for this model. The package went back to sunny Spain, and now we are discussing how to forward it again.


Devices with an original design in the form of a cat's head. Features:
  • AA batteries, which should simplify their replacement;
  • admin panel for convenient control of individual beacons or a bundle right away.

I did not learn anything about more advanced business solutions from the guys from this team. I assume that they are in the segment of suppliers of iron, rather than ready-to-use solutions for specific business segments. The starter-pack cost me 100 AUD for three beacons excluding delivery.

I don’t attach photos, because I still haven’t received the device. Three weeks have passed since the payment at the time of publication of the article. The guys in the letters convince me that they sent the order a long time ago, but do not provide any specifics (tracking number, for example).

To summarize

The supplierThe countryFeaturesCostDelivery
Shenzhen ankhmawayChinastandard lighthouseiB001: $ 20
iB004: $ 25
EMS, 10 days, $ 30
Shenzhen minewChinastandard lighthouse
$ 18EMS, 7 days, $ 35
Beijing AprilbrotherChinastandard lighthouse
$ 18.8EMS, 7 days, $ 15
Kontakt.ioPoland“Neat” design of a
CMS beacon management
demo application
$ 27UPS, 15 days, $ 20
+ hassle with UPS
+ customs
Accent advanced systemsSpaina button on the case
broadcasts its status is
supported only on Android
€ 20inattention
during the first shipment; the
second shipment via
UPS is blocked by
customs and sent
BluecatsAustraliaAA batteries
$ 33did not arrive in 21 days

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