Industry analysts are predicting a bright future for Bluetooth, but the wireless technology still has several hurdles to cross before it will get the chance to shine.
Bluetooth is a radio-based wireless technology that enables devices such as PCs, printers, laptop computers and mobile phones to exchange data over short distances as well as provide connectivity to the internet.
In a report issued today, researcher Frost & Sullivan said that although there are no commercially available Bluetooth products as yet, the technology will start gathering momentum from 2001 onwards, sustained by plummeting silicon prices and soaring demand for short range radio connectivity.
The researcher predicts that Bluetooth will generate worldwide revenue of $53.12bn in 2006.
However, commercial availability of the technology has already been delayed, and a long and complicated qualification process could result in product shipments being set back beyond the December 2000 shipping date most vendors are currently promising.
Jan Ten Sythoff, Frost & Sullivan programme manager and author of the report, said: "Some companies did say that products would be available in mid 2000, but this has come and gone. Now it looks like they will ship at the end of the year.
"The delays are due to the fact that the technology is more complicated than people thought. In order to put Bluetooth into a product, it's not just a case of adding a chip. It has to be the right chip, and extra software has to be integrated into the product and this takes time. The qualification process has also been more difficult than first thought."
Darren Watkins, European product and technical support manager at TDK, which plans to manufacture Bluetooth products, said: "The qualification process is taking so long because it is dealing with something that needs to be integrated. If it isn't then customers will lose all confidence in Bluetooth and no one will want to know. It's important that it is right."
Watkins said that TDK is expecting to begin its own Bluetooth qualification process in October.
"At the moment we're looking at two months to get Bluetooth approval, so fingers crossed we should be ready for shipping in December," he said.
Frost & Sullivan said Europe is one of the regions that will see a particular boom in the uptake of Bluetooth products, because of the proliferation of mobile phones.
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