The ZigBee™ Alliance, an association of companies working together to enable wirelessly networked monitoring and control products based on an open global standard, recognized a number of recent industry events demonstrating unprecedented value in the long-term market potential for ZigBee devices.
On January 24, Texas Instruments Inc.(TI) completed its acquisition of ZigBee Alliance Promoter Member, Chipcon, a designer of short-range, low power wireless RF transceiver devices and a provider of ZigBee-compliant solutions. That acquisition combines Chipcon's radio frequency portfolio, technical support and development tools with TI's high performance analog silicon technologies, systems expertise and sales network to provide customers with complete low power wireless solutions.
On January 10, STMicroelectronics and ZigBee Alliance Promoter Member, Ember Corp., announced that STMicro will become a second source for Ember's ZigBee semiconductors and protocol software. Both companies will jointly develop future ZigBee solutions including hardware, software and tools to address the fast growing ZigBee market. The deal combines Ember's expertise and intellectual property in 802.15.4/ZigBee radio hardware and software with STMicro's world-class capabilities in semiconductor technology and development, as well as its global manufacturing and marketing resources.
"Many companies look to a worldwide industry standard when developing products and systems for a number of reasons, including quality technology specs that result from input from a variety of companies, second sourcing and benefits that accompany certified and interoperable products. We have seen significant momentum building for ZigBee," said principal analyst Joyce Putscher of In-Stat. "The recent addition of industry giants TI and ST only reaffirms our expectations that the market for ZigBee-enabled products will see exceptional growth."
The ZigBee Alliance is now more than 200 Alliance Members strong and has a presence in 24 countries spanning six continents. OEMs and end-product manufacturers now represent 30 percent of the global membership. With the acquisition of Chipcon, TI now joins the elite group of Promoter members: BM Group, Ember, Freescale, Honeywell, Mitsubishi, Motorola, Phillips and Samsung.
"The low power wireless sensor networking market based primarily on industry-standard IEEE 802.15.4/ZigBee is set to take off and will show significant growth in the coming years," said Art George, vice president of TI's high performance linear business. "Texas Instruments is enhancing its ability to become the leading complete solution provider in this market by acquiring Chipcon, the technology pioneer in this field."
To ensure interoperability, the Alliance implemented a testing process for products before they enter the market and will designate products as "ZigBee Certified." This independently administered process will reduce marketplace frustration by ensuring that all ZigBee-based products are fully interoperable "out of box" and can easily enter into a ZigBee network. Manufacturers, OEMs and developers can qualify for one of three test programs:
"ZigBee Compliant Platform" tests modules or platforms that are intended to be used as building blocks for end-products
"ZigBee Certified" tests apply to end-products built on a ZigBee Compliant Platform using a ZigBee public application profile
"ZigBee Network Capable" tests products built upon a ZigBee-compliant platform but using a non-public ZigBee application profile
"The flurry of recent acquisition and partnership activity by industry giants TI and ST demonstrate the bottom line value and tremendous potential of the ZigBee standard," said Bob Heile, chairman of the ZigBee Alliance. "Over the past year, in excess of two million ZigBee radio chips were sold—more than any other radio technology in this space. These chips were delivered to consumer product and other device manufacturing companies that are designing the next generation end-user products that will be certified to work together seamlessly, and you can bet that this trend will increase exponentially."