There is a new Rel-12 WI "Study on Proximity-based Services" with Qualcomm being the main proponent of this. This was earlier known as D2D (Device-to-device). From the 3GPP SP-110638:
Justification: Proximity-based applications and services represent a recent and enormous socio-technological trend. The principle of these applications is to discover instances of the applications running in devices that are within proximity of each other, and ultimately also exchange application-related data. In parallel, there is interest in proximity-based discovery and communications in the public safety community.
Current 3GPP specification are only partially suited for such needs, since all such traffic and signalling would have to be routed in the network, thus impacting their performance and adding un-necessary load in the network. These current limitations are also an obstacle to the creation of even more advanced proximity-based applications.
In this context, 3GPP technology, has the opportunity to become the platform of choice to enable proximity-based discovery and communication between devices, and promote a vast array of future and more advanced proximity-based applications.
Objective: The objective is to study use cases and identify potential requirements for an operator network controlled discovery and communications between devices that are in proximity, under continuous network control, and are under a 3GPP network coverage, for:
1. Commercial/social use
2. Network offloading
3. Public Safety
4. Integration of current infrastructure services, to assure the consistency of the user experience including reachability and mobility aspects
Additionally, the study item will study use cases and identify potential requirements for
5. Public Safety, in case of absence of EUTRAN coverage (subject to regional regulation and operator policy, and limited to specific public-safety designated frequency bands and terminals)
Use cases and service requirements will be studied including network operator control, authentication, authorization, accounting and regulatory aspects.
The study does not apply to GERAN or UTRAN.
In the past I have mentioned about Qualcomm's proprietary Flashlinq technology that seems to contain lots of similarities. There is also this AllJoyn technology that Qualcomm has been showing off since MWC. Here is a video of that:
There is a lot of potential of this proximity marketing technology mostly for marketing purposes and games. In the end it would depend of the Apps, services and charging based around this. There is also a big possibility for TV and VoD services where you start watching something on your device but then transfer it onto a TV or just a bigger screen.