Analysts: Don't bite on Bluetooth hype

It's easy to understand how the PC and wireless industries could over-hype Bluetooth with so many heavyweights behind it. But Dataquest analysts urged the industry not to go overboard
Written by Richard Shim, Contributor

The PC and wireless industries ought to focus on what Bluetooth technology was meant to do: connect and synchronize information from a number of devices, Dataquest analysts said Friday.

"With all the attention that Bluetooth has been receiving, we need to focus on the foundation application which is seamless synchronisation for personal area networks," analyst Mike McGuire said at a briefing for developers and the media.

Bluetooth is a short-range wireless technology that synchronizes devices within ten metres. It was developed by a special interest group that includes industry heavyweights Intel, Toshiba, IBM, 3Com, Motorola, Ericsson, Nokia, Lucent and, recently, Microsoft.

Already, more than 1,900 developers are working on Bluetooth devices.

With so many high-profile companies involved in developing and marketing the technology, analysts are concerned that the industry will view Bluetooth as a solution for everything from wireless Internet access to LANs.

"One of the major challenges the industry will face is maintaining a perspective and not to treat Bluetooth as the hammer with everything else looking like nails," said analyst Dale Ford.

PC technology researcher Martin Reynolds suggested that security was another significant weakness in the Bluetooth technology.

"While Bluetooth specifications include security, it does not require it and developers, when they are not required to include something tend to leave it out," Reynolds said.

Eventually, cell phones are likely to lead the demand for Bluetooth-enabled devices, analysts said. Regardless of its weaknesses, Bluetooth's strength -- seamless synchronisation of different devices -- cast a rosy light on Dataquest forecasts.

Analysts suggest that 100 million Bluetooth-enabled devices -- including cell phones, notebooks and handhelds -- will ship by 2001 and the growth potential is near 800 million.

By 2004, Dataquest predicts that a billion Bluetooth devices will be on the market.

The first Bluetooth devices are expected to reach consumers by mid-2001. Eventually, cell phones are likely to lead the demand for Bluetooth-enabled devices, analysts said. But PC-card devices, including PDAs and notebook computers, are likely to be first to market.

It will take time for manufacturers to integrate Bluetooth into cell phones, analysts said.

Motorola recently announced that it was providing IBM and Toshiba with PC Card and USB devices with the Bluetooth technology. IBM and Toshiba are expected to add the devices in its product line before the end of the year.

Xircom has also announced that it would collaborate with Ericsson to integrate Bluetooth technology into notebooks and handheld devices.

Take me to the Bluetooth special

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