Apple is using interactive BLE already, in its third-generation Apple TV. If you bring a BLE-equipped iOS 7 device in range of an Apple TV that has Bluetooth turned on, the devices see each other and you're prompted to use the iOS device as a remote control for the Apple TV. In this case, the Apple TV is acting as the beacon. The use of BLE's autodiscovery APIs is how the AirDrop peer-to-peer file-sharing feature is initiated in iOS 7 as well.
Given that BLE is implemented in many more devices than Apple's, why do I characterize this as an Apple innovation? For the same reason the iPod changed the game even though there were plenty of MP3 players, that the iPhone changed the game even though there were dominant mobile phones, and that the iPad changed the game even though there had been tablets for years. That reason: Apple is great at crafting the full experience and making it compelling. (That's why beacons vendors have started calling their devices iBeacons.)
BlackBerry is certainly in no position to lead here, and the Android world is too fragmented. Google's approach of keeping Android updates secret from both manufacturers and developers until it has released its own version means each vendor has to play catch-up, and developers then have to figure out how to support the variations. Microsoft could take leadership, but there are no signs it will.
By contrast, when iBeacons apps and hardware start showing up, tens of millions of iPhone, iPad, and Mac users will be compatible with them out of the gate. That'll also push retailers and developers to optimize for iBeacons, making a de facto standard of the Apple beacons technology.
Perhaps Google and Microsoft will treat BLE beacons more strategically and we'll see a more platform-neutral approach evolve. That'd be great. It would make the Next Big Thing that much bigger.
This article, "Apple's next revolution may be Bluetooth-powered iBeacons," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Galen Gruman's Smart User blog. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.