Oracle Arena

Apple’s iBeacon system, which is quickly becoming fashionable among retail locations and sporting arenas, has been installed at Oracle Arena in Oakland, where the NBA’s Golden State Warriors play. The team is the first in the NBA to implement the technology, installed by Sonic Notify. The positioning system, considered iOS 7’s “hidden gem,” allows for specifically targeted messages, alerts and more via notifications on a mobile device, giving locations data to show customers and fans special deals, helpful information and more. But, according to Bloomberg, iBeacon’s seedier side is already rearing its head.

The technology is apparently pinging fans at Oracle Arena who are stuck in nosebleed seats to upgrade their tickets. That’s… not at all helpful, and probably annoying for fans that can’t afford to sit closer to the action. Don’t spend a little bit of money when you can spend a whole bunch more seems like a counterproductive message to send to fans. Bloomberg even notes that tickets typically aren’t available anyway because games usually sell out, so imagine trying to upgrade and then being told there aren’t any seats to upgrade to.

We’ll give the powers at Oracle Arena the benefit of the doubt. The technology is still in its infancy, so businesses are still trying to figure how to best implement it. I would suggest, as a consumer, to offer benefits to fans who already paid to be there, not nag them to upgrade. Thanks for coming, here’s a free drink. Something like that. Sonic Notify CEO, Aaron Mittman, acknowledged that the technology is rife for abuse at sporting arenas. “You’re not going to get mad at the Golden State Warriors and go to some other arena instead.”

That doesn’t mean every phone that supports iBeacon (iOS with Bluetooth 4.0 and Android with Bluetooth 4.0 and Android 4.3) is being bombarded by notifications. You have to actually download the proper app specific to the location you’re in. So, for example, the Warriors need smartphone owners to download the team’s app. But if it’s urging nosebleed fans to upgrade to more expensive seats, who would want that constant reminder that the seat they’re in probably isn’t the best?