The next few years will be good for the ultra-low power wireless connectivity IC market, where revenues are expected to surpass $2 billion by 2016. According to ABI Research, the analytics firm behind that projection, Bluetooth Smart and 802.15.4 will secure leading positions among the technologies available on the market although competition is expected to heat up.
Peter Cooney, director of ABI's wireless connectivity practice, noted that Bluetooth Smart had proved very successful in areas such as sports and fitness equipment, often replacing the proprietary technologies used in applications of that kind. Shipments of Bluetooth Smart devices are forecast to exceed one billion annually in the five years ahead. Their growth will be driven by strong uptake among manufacturers supplying products like remote controls, home automation sensors and computer accessories. Vendors will be drawn by Bluetooth Smart's ultra-low power capability and they will seek to capitalise on the enormous ecosystem of Bluetooth devices, Cooney added.
However, other technologies will provide plenty of competition. ZigBee, for example, boasts a mesh networking capability with a theoretically unlimited node count. This makes it a superior choice to Bluetooth Smart when large node counts could be in order, an example being home networking applications. But Bluetooth Smart will have the upper hand in point-to-point applications such as TV remote controls, wireless mice and keyboards thanks to the widespread presence of Bluetooth Smart Ready in numerous consumer devices. Looking further ahead, ABI expects low-power Wi-Fi to become a strong competitor as the technology continues to improve.
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