Bluetooth: A Rundown

The Snags With Bluetooth

The problems were still not all overcome. To get established, Bluetooth has to smoothly work its way into the hearts of IT products. When asked, the manufacturers all mention the same magic figure: $5 per chip! Sadly, a closer look reveals that things are a bit more complicated than that, and certainly more expensive. It all depends on how many communication layers are installed and the capacity of client companies to develop their own drivers. A turnkey solution (chip + software) that can communicate with all Bluetooth 1.1 products would cost more in the region of $50, amounting to an extra cost to the end user of over $100! This is a long way from the five dollar figure they have been trumpeting for years. What's more, the actual cost of the hardware alone, i.e., a chip without profiles or development kit, could be some $15 to $30, depending on the volumes involved.

Yet in spite of these cost deterrents, the future will undoubtedly be wireless. A wireless future means easier installation and communication, and no more cables. Still, we would be going out on a limb to bet on Bluetooth to provide the answer. WiFi is the most serious rival, but already in the offing are: UWB (Ultra Wide Band), also on the 2.45 GHz frequency band and with a capacity of 40 Mbps; HyperLan; HomeRF; etc.

Furthermore, the hitherto most enthusiastic manufacturers are now the most reluctant to transform the prototypes they keep presenting at IT shows into finished products that you can actually buy. Many feel that wireless protocols are not fully mature and are waiting for that one standard to be adopted over all others. And they are not all reckoning on Bluetooth. The theoretical rate of the 1.1 version is too low. With its promise of 10 Mbps, the Bluetooth 2.0, announced as early as 2001, was supposed to convince even the most hesitant. But even its most fervent supporters are still unable to proffer a date when it will actually be available.