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Home Page Editorial
July 3,  2003) 

From Publisher and Managing Editor's Desk... 

Topic - Forrester says Bluetooth Will Be Pervasive - In What Context, we Ask? 

Last month, trade press carried a report from Forrester Market research company suggesting that Bluetooth will be the pervasive technology in future and not Wi-Fi. The research company used valid statistics about incorporation of Bluetooth in cellular handsets to come to an invalid conclusion. 

We respect Forrester as a research company with depth. Unfortunately, we do not agree with all the conclusions made by Forrester. It appears that Forrester analyst got overwhelmed by the Bluetooth numbers against lower Wi-Fi deployments in smart phone, PDA and notebook-based devices. We offer the following points for technical and business professionals to consider:

  1. There is no practical contest between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi have their own unique roles in the world of wireless -  Bluetooth is for the lower-end and cheaper voice-centric devices (primarily handsets) - low-power, low battery consumption, shorter coverage distances, cheaper chip costs and lower communications speed. This serves handsets and a whole lot of other accessories very well. Wi-Fi is the bigger brother of Bluetooth - stronger, muscular who eats more battery power, runs faster and costs more money. It is better suited for those devices that are data-intensive.
  2. If we just count numbers, Bluetooth already does and will continue to dominate in numbers. No arguments, there at all. Forrester, we rest our case on that issue. However, if that is your definition of pervasiveness, please state so clearly for the benefit of simple-minded professionals.  Wi-Fi should not be in a counting contest with Bluetooth. Let it concede that. We shall have no arguments with Forrester if the report said - In terms of cellular handsets, Bluetooth will be more pervasive than Wi-Fi.
  3. When smart phone handsets become more data-centric doing some heavy-duty applications, vendors will have to consider Wi-Fi for these devices. Major device vendors are already doing that, including Qualcomm at the chip level.  We see more dual-technology devices in future at the high end of the device spectrum i.e. incorporating both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. 
  4. Both technologies will survive for the foreseeable future. Numbers will be in Bluetooth's favor - wireless data horsepower will be in Wi-Fi's favour.
  5. In the home networking arena, Wi-Fi has a much greater chance pf succeeding than Bluetooth. 
  6. In fact, ignoring future technology developments and breakthroughs that we do not know about, we see high-end wireless data-centric devices in future to support three network technologies Bluetooth for communication to accessories, Wi-Fi for hotspot/enterprise connectivity and 3G or 4G for pervasive mobility when data needs are less intensive. Our forecasts are not based on any numbers but fundamental strengths (and weaknesses) of individual technologies.
  7. Future hotspots should and we think, will support both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices. Next generation of Access Points or WLAN switches will support Bluetooth devices as well.

- Chander Dhawan 

For your comments, click here

Chander Dhawan - Your Site's Principal Consultant and Publisher

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