In-Stat: Over 2B Bluetooth devices to ship by 2013

Bluetooth technology has made its way past mobile handsets to other devices such as mobile PCs, automotives and industrial and medical equipment, thus boosting its overall adoption rate, a new study reveals.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

Shipment of Bluetooth-enabled devices will hit a high of over 2 billion in 2013, fueled by increased adoption of the technology in other mobile devices outside of the communications sector, a new study has shown.

According to an In-Stat study, which was released in October, the integration of Bluetooth technology is making its way beyond its core domain in communications to other mobile devices in industries such as the automotive and medical markets. This, in turn, will drive the shipment of Bluetooth-enabled devices to hit the 2 billion mark by 2013, which reverses the trend in 2009 when the economic downturn caused a reduction in the total shipment, the report stated.

As it stands, mobile phones continue to be the main driver of Bluetooth adoption. Brian O'Rourke, principal analyst at In-Stat, noted that because of the growing mobile phone market, Bluetooth will continue to "roll out in large volumes" over time.

He also pointed out that because the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) introduced a new specification--Bluetooth 4.0--in December last year, this has broadened the technology's reach. Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy (LE) comes with a low-energy feature that supports the transfer of very short data packets from 8 to 27 octets at the speed of 1 megabit per second (Mbps).

A Bluetooth SIG spokesperson, Cynthia Chan, told ZDNet Asia in an earlier interview that other low-energy attributes include a more intelligent controller, which allows the host device to "sleep" for longer periods of time and to wake up only when the host needs to perform some action.

These features are very much in demand with the medical and consumer sectors and will increase the penetration of Bluetooth technology, the In-Stat report noted.

The research group's observation reinforced the point brought up by Nick Jones, a vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. In an earlier interview, he said that the new specification will enable all kinds of new applications, citing blood pressure sensors in the healthcare sector as well as watches and jewelry that have caller ID display.

Besides the medical and consumer markets, In-Stat pointed to the automotive industry as another that would stand to benefit from the technology. The report stated that Bluetooth will become common in the midsize sedan segment, which is the "sweet spot" in the automotive market currently.

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