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Asian firms unreceptive to Bluetooth

Eighty percent of Asian companies polled by international marketing consulting company Frost & Sullivan say they have no plans to purchase Bluetooth products in the future.

SINGAPORE--Eighty percent of Asian companies polled by international marketing consulting company Frost & Sullivan say they have no plans to purchase Bluetooth products in the future.

Frost & Sullivan conducted interviews with 40 multinationals and large corporations with high IT spending budgets, across all industries in Asia. In total, the firm spoke to over 120 network managers, or other executives with IT and network equipment purchasing responsibilities, across the US and Europe (see table below).

The Bluetooth survey also revealed that only three out of the 120 companies were testing Bluetooth products and all were Europe-based. " It was clear from other parts of the research that Europe is likely to be the early market to target," Frost & Sullivan said in a statement.

Based on the results, Bluetooth, the emerging short-range wireless technology, has managed to confuse many. "One of the fundamental findings of the study is that the majority of end-users describe Bluetooth as a wireless LAN.

"Although this is true to a degree, and indeed in some respects, the two technologies are becoming more similar, they also differ in many ways. It is important that the industry increases awareness of the capabilities and limitations of the technology, or disappointment could lead to a backlash," said Jan ten Sythoff, Frost & Sullivan Mobile and Wireless programme manager in the statement.

Ten Sythoff warned that since the new technology was perceived that way, companies with existing wireless LAN implementations were less likely to invest in Bluetooth.

On concerns and challenges, Frost & Sullivan said that Bluetooth technology, which has been in development for more than six years, must overcome several teething problems--such as interoperability, robustness, interference and perceived security flaws-- before it can succeed.

In fact, respondents to the survey were most concerned about the security aspect of Bluetooth--a finding which was consistent globally and regardless of whether their companies had installed wireless LAN.

Despite the initial negative findings, the consulting firm believes that future Bluetooth-enabled devices will have a huge impact on the communications industry. "We are confident that Bluetooth anticipation sweeping the global PC and cellular phone industry will help push revenues from under US$2 billion this year to US$333 billion by 2006.

"Bluetooth shipments will leap from 4.2 million to 1.01 billion during the same timeframe," it added.

Frost & Sullivan believes that Europe will embrace the technology faster and would be a more profitable market as (initially) compared with the US and Asia. This is because Europe had the highest score for Bluetooth awareness, understanding and likelihood to purchase, it said.

And to avoid the WAP flop, ten Sythoff believes that the technology should be sold and marketed minus the hype but on an application-by-application basis. "If and when it becomes ubiquitous, it will be revolutionary...but this will take several years."