BANGALORE, India Indian companies targeting niche technology development continue to push their Bluetooth efforts despite lingering doubts about the business potential of the wireless specification.
MindTree Consulting has tailored its latest Bluetooth solutions to the 1.2 spec. Mindtree and Impulsesoft, both based here, and and Hellosoft Inc. (Sunnyvale, Calif.), which operates a development center in Hyderabad, said they will continue Bluetooth-related development. All have licensed their Bluetooth intellectual property to companies such as Sony and Panasonic.
All said they expect more Bluettooth design wins. "Over 75 percent of Impulsesoft's revenues last year were from Bluetooth, so I would say Bluetooth is crucial to Impulsesoft's performance," said K. Srikrishna, president and chief executive of Impulsesoft.
Impulsesoft is one of the few companies here with a near-complete focus on Bluetooth. Along with MindTree, others such as Wipro Technologies have tested in the Bluetooth market, but have yet to allocate significant resources.
Wipro, for instance, was the second company in the world to get its Bluetooth profiles and Bluetooth protocol stack certified under version 1.1 of the spec two years ago. That work has since slowed considerably.
With the exception of Wipro, other start ups are attempting to push the envelope beyond the traditional Indian technology business of writing application software.
MindTree has signed customers such as Sony and Epson for its Bluetooth offerings and considers the market a key target. "We are a key global Bluetooth IP player [and] will continue our focus," said Vinod Deshmukh, MindTree's chief technology officer. "We see the need for application-specific, Bluetooth-based standard components in the market. Our roadmap addresses the creation of application-specific standard products for a few specific applications."
Companies here said concerns about the business potential of Bluetooth are misplaced even if the technology was overhyped. They do not see Bluetooth and wireless LANs as opposing technologies since both are aimed at different markets.
"The skepticism [about the future of Bluetooth], if present at all, is largely misplaced. Comparing Bluetooth and wireless LAN is quite like comparing cell phones and laptop computers in that they are fundamentally addressing different needs and markets. Already this last year, Bluetooth chip shipments worldwide have exceeded WiFi shipments, with cellular phones leading the way," said Srikrishna of Impulsesoft.
"Bluetooth and wireless LAN should coexist [since] the former is a wire replacement, personal area network while wireless LAN serves the small-office, home-office and enterprise markets," said Rama Rao Sreeramaneni, general manager of the Hellosoft's India operations.
HelloSoft licenses physical layer and networking protocol software to semiconductor companies and equipment OEMs for a number of technologies including voice-ove r-packet, Wireless LAN, 2.5G/3G wireless, Digital Subscriber Line and Bluetooth. It has a few Bluettooth customers but declined to identify them.
Impulsesoft has more than 30 customers for its Bluetooth solutions in Japan, the U.S., South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Europe. Some are top global original equipment manufacturers shipping products that incorporate its technology.
"The experience of our four years in the Bluetooth business has helped Impulsesoft transition from a pure software stack [provider] to complete system solutions provider as seen by the firsts we have achieved," Srikrishna said. Those firsts include the largest public deployment of Bluetooth in Japan (Panasonic's Hayashibara Dinosaur Factory Museum) and the world's first Bluetooth HiFi headphones made by the South Korean company OpenBrain Inc.
Impulsesoft is also working on multiradio standards such as Bluetooth and WiFi, Bluetooth and PHS, Bluetooth and GPRS and, finally, a combination of Bluetooth, WiFi and GPRS.
Min dTree is meanwhile among the few companies to implement the 1.2 version of Bluetooth as a requirement in its products. It Bluetooth arsenal includes silicon IP, an LMP stack and a protocol stack to application-specific profiles.