LAS VEGAS -- Bluetooth may have finally found its niche at this week's Consumer Electronics Show here in the form of new PC peripheral and telematic applications by several top-tier OEMs.
Motorola Inc., for example, introduced a Bluetooth-enabled hands-free car kit that offers a wireless headset interfaced with a handset that can process voice activated numbers.
Other OEMs, including Palm and Compaq Corp. demonstrated their Bluetooth-based handheld devices that interface with PCs and Bluetooth-enabled handsets, now offered by three largest handset OEMs including Nokia and Motorola.
These introduction demonstrate that the technology is finally settling into a comfortable market niche , said Jack Quinn, an analyst with Micrologic Research, Phoenix AZ. "As to the claims that Bluetooth did not live up to its 'promise,' I think it would be more accurate to say that it did not live up to its early hype," he said.
"It took time to develop th e Bluetooth standard, but now the standard is reliable and ready for market. Bluetooth chip sales in 2001 were pretty close to the forecast that we first published in August 2000. I feel that Bluetooth is coming to market right on time and right as forecast."
Bluetooth was never designed to be high-speed technology but was optimized for low cost, and low power consumption, he said. "It was never designed to be a computer network and to compete with 802.11," Quinn said. "Bluetooth is designed to add wireless connectivity to devices such as PDAs whose batteries are too small to power an 802.11 node."
Indeed, OEMs generally agree that Bluetooth was always a niche, despite the initial hype. "Some [proponents] got caught up in the hype like everyone else did, and they extended their mission that exceeded the ability of the technology," said Kevin Duffy, vice president of Siemens' Home Networking Division, Austin, Texas.
"The original application that was the killer app was that I could have my cell p hone in my pocket that I could connect to my PC. I was eliminating the requirement to have line of sight and have no obstruction in between."