It’s out; Cahners In-Stat Group announced that they are sticking by their forecasts of 13 million shipments of Bluetooth chips which might surprise some – but I’m not. Why? (Originally published on infoSync)
First let’s take a closer look at the amazing myth that 802.11b will directly compete with Bluetooth. I have an 802.11b card in my laptop and believe it or not, my battery time decreases by 30% or more when I use it. That’s just to tell you that 802.11b is something that consumes a lot of power. It is also very powerful in that you can set up wonderful high bandwidth connection between computers and very easily set up a network in your home (like me) or office. It’s for networking.
There are other things you might want to connect wirelessly though, like your mobile phone to your pda. Or your printer to your computer setup. Or your keyboard and mouse to all your computers in your house. Do you really think that an expensive, high bandwidth 802.11b card will be installed in all those devices to let them interconnect? This is exactly where Bluetooth will come in. It is really small, it is really cheap and it requires a lot less power. It is also slower, but who cares. I doubt you can type on your keyboard at speeds that will require 11 Mbit/s of bandwidth. We don’t have mobile phones yet that have an 11 Mbit/s network connection so if my Visor is only connected at 1 Mbit/s to my phone then that will be more than enough.
With the above short paragraph I hope I have moved the “802.11b will kill Bluetooth” myth out of your head. Now let’s go on to see what we can do with Bluetooth now, in the near future and what I might want to be able to do with Bluetooth.
As of the Bluetooth SIG there are already 443 qualified Bluetooth products. Just to give you a small idea of the list, here are a few products by the better known companies.
- 3COM Corporation: Bluetooth card and USB Hub
- Compaq Computer Corporation: Compaq iPAQ H3870 Pocket PC with Integrated Bluetooth, Bluetooth Multiport Module
- Ericsson Mobile Communications AB: Headset, Phone Adapter, R520m(c), Development Kit, T39m(c) and T68m(c)
- Fujitsu Limited: Wireless Modem Access Point, PCMCIA Card, FMV-Biblo NE6/650W laptop, Lifebook B-2547
- Hitachi Ltd.: Flora 220FX personal computer and FLORA 270HX notebook personal computer
- IBM Corporation: PC-Card, Ultraport Module, PC Card II
- Microsoft: Bluetooth Stack for Windows CE
- Motorola: Timeport 270, Mini PCI Card, PC Card, Speaker Mic, USB Adapter, Clip-on Accessory, Phone Module
- NEC Corporation: several personal computers
- Nokia: Connectivity Battery, Connectivity Card
- Palm: Bluetooth stack for Palm OS
- Sharp Corporation: several mobile phones, wireless headset
- Siemens AG: USB Dongle, MPI-ADapter, Stand Alone System, LAN Access Point
- Sony Corporation: Several notebooks, cdmaOne C413S mobile phone, modem adapter
- TDK Systems Europe Ltd.: USB Adapters and PC-Cards
There are also newer companies like DigiAnswer AS who have components, protocol analysers, a phone module, a PC card, a headset and more. All in all I think you will see that the list is very long. There are a lot of big and small names who have their power behind this.
But why does it take so long to get these products in our hands? Once again, there is a simple answer. If you want something fast, then you just do it. Do your thing. Release a Bluetooth headset and a Bluetooth phone and you are done. The problem is that if nobody else adapts your protocol and technology then you will be talking to yourself and only yourself. That’s where standards come in, like the one developed by the Bluetooth SIG. It takes a lot longer to get it done but at the end we will, hopefully, have a large number of devices talking to each other. Let’s just hope that not too many companies will try to do their own thing on top of the specs.
Some of you might still be wondering though what all the fuss is about. Here are just a few possibilities.
You will have your small mobile phone in your pocket and when you think you need it you will take your PDA with you. If you want to write a quick e-mail you take your PDA out and it will talk wirelessly with the mobile phone in your pocket and use that to send the e-mail. No extra contract is needed to get your PDA hooked up wirelessly.
You then have to take a short trip with your car and once you get in your mobile phone will tell your handsfree set that it is there and when your friend rings a few minutes later you just say “Accept Call!” and your mobile phone picks up, your radio is turned down and your friend’s voice comes out of the car speakers. Your friend tells you that he has a sample contract for you to look at and you tell him to send it to your PDA mail address. Seconds later you feel your PDA vibrating telling you a new mail arrived.
Once you are at home you decide to print out the sample contract you received on your PDA via e-mail which will work by pressing one button on the PDA once it is closer than 10 meters to your printer (provided it has bluetooth support). You put your mobile phone on the table too as it is hooked up to your home phone system now and all the phones at home will ring if there is an incoming call on the mobile phone. To relax, you take away the keyboard from the PC and take it over to the TV to surf around on the couch. Soon you decide to watch a movie and start the latest Star Trek episode on your hard disk recorder. At once your 14-way surround system, with speakers floating freely in the air all around the couch start playing the introduction music. You sit back and enjoy the ride.
Ok, so we don’t have floating speakers yet but otherwise all of this is coming, and it is not coming with 802.11b!