Wireless Systems Design

Are You Feeling Blue?

Lately, I've been asking the above question a great deal—not necessarily of myself, but of the entire consumer marketplace. Let me explain. When I first took control of this publication, it seemed that no matter which way I turned, the only topic of conversation was Bluetooth. What was it? How did it work? Would it revolutionize the wireless industry? Most importantly, when would it be a viable reality?

Not all that long ago, I thought I had found some good, concrete answers to such questions. A myriad of technological announcements made their way into the marketplace. Consumers were finally starting to see Bluetooth-enabled products. But then, in a move somewhat akin to the power being shut off in California, the lights went out on Bluetooth. Granted, this didn't happen overnight. Nonetheless, a change was slowly revealing itself.

Up to this point, I couldn't have gone a week without hearing Bluetooth news or being bombarded with calls from companies that were working on the technology. Then, my phone suddenly stopped ringing. Worse yet, the companies that we contacted remained oddly quiet when any of us tried to research Bluetooth for upcoming reports.

What caused this sudden change? It's true that the economy has yet to fully rebound. Its condition has rendered many consumers unwilling to invest money in "new" technology-based products. The economy also has left many companies feeling vulnerable. They're now focusing more on connecting with potential customers. Making sales has become more important than evangelizing on the benefits of Bluetooth or other technologies.

But is that all there is to the story? Perhaps not. Many companies are now trying to figure out what the market will be for Bluetooth. Is it still as viable as once thought? Can Bluetooth providers make enough money to stay afloat in the current economic climate? Or is Bluetooth destined to become just another commodity?

Those are all good questions. I suspect that by the end of this year, many answers will be revealed. Maybe they'll appear in the form of new application-area announcements for Bluetooth technology, such as the automotive arena. Regardless of where Bluetooth catches on, however, one fact remains true: It needs to regain some of its old hype. More notable and visible progress in the Bluetooth community could prompt both the industry and the consumer public to pay more attention to this market segment. It also could create a demand for products.

In the meantime, if you happen to have an opinion on Bluetooth, drop me a line. I can be reached at [email protected]

TAGS: Automotive
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