There are a handful of beacon manufacturers competing in the market today, from Estimote, Kontakt and Sambla. These beacons all essentially operate the same way, making it tough for certain manufacturers to differentiate themselves from one another. In the business of hardware manufacturing, contending companies compete on a price basis and have very little else in terms of gaining an advantage. Estimote seems to be doing a good job by making their beacons a bit flashy and stylish, while Gimbal seems to be shooting themselves in the foot with beacons that have a battery life of only one month. Ultimately, Beacon manufacturers that can keep the cost low can pass down their cost savings to their customers in the form of lower prices.
So what does this all mean in regards to Apple? Apple is notorious in this industry for including Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) integration into iOS7 for micro-location services and other capabilities. Compatible iDevices were then able to make use of the proximity sensing capabilities supported by Apple, giving birth to the beacon market. Beacons, and the advertising done through those beacons, have mostly been made by third parties other than Apple. Leaked documents filed with the FCC now show that Apple intends to enter the hardware space, and we imagine that they will be wildly successful at it.
Not only does Apple have huge economies of scale, they are also sitting on cash reserves of $48.5 billion. With that amount of money, Apple can essentially bully any competitor in the manufacturing space. Perhaps, they could even shut out their competitors from the market entirely via Apple Maps Connect. Apple, from its hardware to its software, has always emphasized that it offers a great user experience with its products. Apple beacons along with a fully customizable interface for adjusting its settings, changing push messages and monitoring other relevant data is most likely in the works.