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ABI sees Bluetooth and Wi-Fi markets evolving differently

Prices and market developments are pushing Bluetooth and Wi-Fi in new directions according to a new short-range wireless communications forecast from ABI Research (wwwabiresearch.com).

“Bluetooth and Wi-Fi equipment and chipset numbers continue to increase, but with IC prices continuing to fall due to technology evolution and greater IC production efficiency, revenues aren’t rising as dramatically,” said senior analyst Doug McEuen. “That’s especially the case for Wi-Fi, where chipsets have been very expensive for a long time. As the attach rate, particularly in laptops, increases to 100%, production is growing rapidly and prices are falling. That’s a good thing, because as the laptop market reaches saturation, Wi-Fi will need to find new opportunities.”

McEuen said IC vendors are hoping that lower price points will make the ICs attractive to other market segments, especially wireless handsets. “If you’re a radio or IC manufacturer and your unit price is above $2.00, you’re going to have trouble getting your product into a cell phone,” notes McEuen. “That is definitely one of the reasons why Wi-Fi has seen slower adoption in that market.”

Bluetooth’s prevalence in wireless handset/headset combinations is being supplemented by greater penetration in MP3 players and other portable media devices. It is also making inroads in the automotive industry, according to McEuen. “Bluetooth already has great penetration in the handset world and its price point is very low. It is also evolving towards higher speeds and greater capabilities.”
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