Most personal area networking connectivity employed in electronic games is provided by Bluetooth, but experts predict "volatile" growth for the technology over the next four years.
Bluetooth will grow strongly in the personal gaming market, and new data from ABI Research forecasts Bluetooth shipments for non-portable consoles to peak at over 115 million units in 2009 before declining to 2007 levels in 2012.
"The gaming console market has a product lifecycle rhythm that ebbs and flows," said senior ABI analyst Douglas McEuen.
Product generations are usually at least three or four years apart, and the market skyrockets when a new console is released.
There is still considerable interest in the console 12 months later, but sales taper off over the following several years.
Then the next-generation console appears, and the market repeats the pattern. This cycle affects components such as Bluetooth.
"The commitment to Bluetooth already shown by Sony and Nintendo, combined with the extended gaming equipment product lifecycle, mean that the future of Bluetooth in this market is guaranteed at least for the next few years," said McEuen.
Other drivers for Bluetooth in the gaming market include manufacturer support, proven usage cases, a buoyant aftermarket and high margins.
The technology is also supported by wide consumer enthusiasm, high shipment volumes and the prospect of greater bandwidth with the addition of version 3.0 to the Bluetooth roadmap.
Better efficiency due to the likely adoption of ultra-low-power Bluetooth in the next generation of consoles will also be a factor.
"On the other hand, several factors tend to inhibit Bluetooth in gaming. Microsoft's proprietary connectivity technology for its Xbox 360 has closed off part of the market, and portable gaming favours 802.11 over Bluetooth," ABI stated.
"Earlier generations of game platforms were open, creating a thriving aftermarket for third-party controllers. This seventh generation of games, in contrast, relies on proprietary technologies from the big three vendors alone."
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