• AUGUST 21, 2002

Bluetooth: slowly but surely

Not so long ago at the height of technology boom, when businesses were barely beginning to understand the workings and implications of e-commerce, the technology community was a step ahead and was talking about m-commerce (mobile-commerce). This meant connecting to the Internet while on the move and going about doing business as usual. There was a dream of a wireless yet wired (read connected) world. But the reality the stares into the face of those pushing for a wireless new world, is that the dream is some time away.

One of the technologies that would make this dream a reality was Bluetooth. The technology enables wireless communication between devices across short distances. What makes the technology so special is the fact that it is not limited to computers, the devices that could be Bluetooth enabled could be your TV, fridge or washing machine. So exciting was the idea that Bluetooth was expected to be a part and parcel of life by now. However, the acceptability of technology till date is limited to a few who are tech-savy. The primary reason for the inability to live up to expectations is the fact the technology has not delivered.

But that does not mean we can write the technology’s obituary. Though slowly Bluetooth is surely gaining ground. Apple Computers and Microsoft operating systems will be Bluetooth enabled by the year-end. Sony, Ericssion, Nokia and Motorola have already or plan to introduce mobile handsets with that are Bluetooth enabled. Also, many laptops are already enabled with the technology.

The technology will become popular only when, it offers solutions for the real world: solutions that are of value to the masses in general and not a select. An example is the effort DiamlerCrysler has made in this direction. The auto major is planning to offer a feature in its vehicles that will enable the driver to make hand free calls. This will be done using Bluetooth.

Another factor that push the adaptability of Bluetooth could be the decline of the chip prices. Ericsson Technology Licensing AB expects the cost of a manufacturing a Bluetooth chip is expected to decline to about US$ 2 by the end of this year from around US$ 10 – 15 a year back. However, according to another leading manufacturer of Bluetooth chips, Cambridge Silicon Radio, the cost will come down to only US$ 5 by 2003. The decline in price is expected to increase the usage of the technology. According to infoworld.com, the number of Bluetooth chipsets shipped is expected to grow from 10 m units in 2001 to 690 m us in 2006.

From the Indian software sector Wipro has been very keen on tech technology. Almost a year ago in September 2001, Wipro became the second company in the world to have all thirteen Bluetooth profiles (Version 1.1) with product qualification status from the Bluetooth Qualification Body (BQB).

Growth in wireless technologies seems to be a strong contender for the next wave of technology that will dominate the corporate IT spends going forward. If their consumers find a technology interesting, corporates will have to migrate to technology. This means that new applications will have to written and integrated with those already existing. Who better to do it than the Indians? It is then that the companies like Wipro that have the first mover advantage stand to gain significantly.

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