ABI Research expects the ultra-low power wireless connectivity IC market to grow to over $2 billion annual revenues by 2016. This will be shared by a number of technologies with Bluetooth Smart and 802.15.4 being the two main markets.
“Bluetooth Smart has seen strong growth in applications such as sports and fitness equipment, in many cases supplanting proprietary technologies,” commented Peter Cooney, wireless connectivity practice director. “Bluetooth Smart device shipments are expected to grow to over 1 billion units per annum in the next five years as manufacturers of devices such as remote controls, home automation sensors, and PC accessories embrace the ultra-low power capability of Bluetooth Smart and take advantage of the massive ecosystem of Bluetooth devices.”
There will be significant competition from other technologies. ZigBee’s mesh networking capability with theoretically unlimited node count gives it a significant advantage over Bluetooth Smart in markets where large nodes counts are likely, such as home networking. However, in point-to-point applications including TV remote controls, wireless mice, and keyboards, Bluetooth Smart will prevail due largely to the high penetration rates of Bluetooth Smart Ready in many consumer devices. In the longer term low-power Wi-Fi is also expected to be a competitor as this technology is developed.
The ultra-low power wireless connectivity market is set apart from many traditional consumer markets for wireless connectivity as it is dominated by lower volume designs, spread across many different customers, much like many industrial markets. Vendors such as Texas Instruments, Freescale Semiconductor, and STMicroelectronics are at an advantage having operated very successful catalogue type businesses for many years. Texas Instruments is seen as being in the strongest position currently, having the widest product portfolio, however, competition will be fierce over the next five years as the market grows and other vendors expand their presence in the market.