The Commercial Market

Bluetooth to Ramp Up in Market Outside of Mobile Handsets

While mobile handsets are expected to account for approximately two-thirds of the Bluetooth devices that will ship in 2002, and cordless headsets will also be a growing category, Allied Business Intelligence's (ABI) new Bluetooth report notes that there are significant opportunities for Bluetooth semiconductor vendors in other markets, especially computing.

ABI projects that computing devices will account for 21 percent of all Bluetooth-enabled devices that will ship in 2003, with a 27 percent share by 2007. The coming wave of Bluetooth cordless input devices including mice and keyboards will be an important factor in driving PC OEMs to embed Bluetooth functionality. Cordless computing peripherals have shown tremendous growth in recent years and Bluetooth will increasingly displace IrDA and proprietary RF technologies as Bluetooth chipsets continue to drive down the cost curve and exhibit improved power efficiency.

The Wireless Home Network: Room for Multiple Wireless Technologies?

According to a report by In-Stat/MDR, over the last three years, a very rapid wireless evolution has occurred in the home. In 1999 and 2000, the question was whether HomeRF or 802.11 would win in the home. In 2001, the main issue was whether 802.11a (5 GHz Wi-Fi) or 802.11g (2.4 GHz Wi-Fi, higher speed version of 802.11b) would be the technology of choice for the connected home of the future. In 2002, the wireless home landscape has broadened, with a handful of solid wireless technologies showing significant potential for specific applications in the home.

The vision of wireless home networking in the future involves the PC cluster of devices (broadband modem, router/AP device, desktops, laptops, PDAs, Web tablets) becoming wirelessly connected to the entertainment cluster of devices, i.e. audio and visual equipment such as TVs, DVD players, MP3 players, gaming devices and home theater devices such as high end displays and DVRs. Another step in networking the home is home automation, i.e. being able to monitor temperature, security and white goods from a central location. Promising home wireless technologies include Wi-Fi, UWB (Ultra- Wideband), Zigbee (the core technology behind IEEE 802.15.4), wireless 1394, and mesh networking technology.

For the purpose of rapid data transmission across LANs, IEEE 802.11b has gained the hearts and minds of many residential end-users. 802.11b, now in its third year of market shipments, has wowed the home market, pushing HomeRF squarely out of the picture. Low end networking vendors were quick to enter the 802.11b market, bringing with their efforts the two most important features of a home networking technology: (1) low cost and (2) easy configuration. Although the easy configuration feature may be arguable in some cases, most of the low end networking equipment vendors are in their second or third generation of 802.11b products and, after being blasted in many user reviews for configuration difficulties, have improved on their software significantly. Also, now Microsoft, the software giant himself, has entered the home 802.11b hardware fray, citing its user-friendly software configuration layer as its main differentiator.

For the latest coverage of the dynamic home networking market from In-Stat/MDR, check out: http://www.

MEMS Offer a Possible Silver Lining for Semiconductor Equipment Suppliers

Given the down turn in the semiconductor equipment market, suppliers are now focusing more intently on the compelling opportunity MEMS fabrication is presenting, according to In-Stat/MDR. There are some 60 MEMS fab/foundries, several hundred start-ups (many of which have their own in-house prototyping and/or fabrication facilities), as well as countless universities and government labs worldwide researching MEMS technology. The high tech market research firm reports that continued unit growth and device diversity, as well as this large potential customer base, is making the MEMS sector a progressively more attractive market for semiconductor equipment manufacturers.

"Equipment for MEMS fabrication is now more available than ever before, ranging from dual purpose (for both semiconductor and MEMS processing steps) to purely MEMS-specific," says Marlene Bourne, a senior analyst with In-Stat/MDR.

One of the biggest competitive factors in the MEMS fabrication equipment market will come from the suppliers themselves - in the form of used equipment. While many start-ups may have funds to install in-house facilities, they often purchase used, rather than new, equipment. As a result, equipment suppliers are finding themselves buying their own old equipment to re-sell it to this particular market sector.

More semiconductor equipment manufacturers are involved in MEMS-specific equipment than would be expected. Several of the top suppliers now have divisions focused solely on MEMS solutions, and no doubt more will emerge in time. There are even several start-ups who have developed and are offering equipment specifically for the MEMS market. Toolsets range from those for deposition, lithography and etching, to wafer bonders, dryers and other equipment.

Cellular Infrastructure Manufacturers to Face Tough 18 Months

The total worldwide count of analog, CDMA, TDMA, GSM, PDC, PHS and UMT base stations will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of a mere 13.7 percent through 2006, according to In-Stat/MDR. The high tech market research firm finds that, during this same period, UMTS will lead the growth with 110 percent, with CDMA and GSM expected to come in at a not so very close second and third. All other air links will experience either flat or negative growth.

According to Ray Jodoin, director of In-Stat/MDR's wireless research group, "Over the next 18 months, there might be significant short term delays due to equipment shortages and problems, as well as a significant lack of funding. In addition, a considerable infrastructure manufacturer retrenchment will also occur, and could lead to additional delays because of the necessity to renegotiate contracts." In Stat/MDR also reports that, one year from now, a minimum of two infrastructure manufacturers, in each major market, will no longer be in business and that significant carrier consolidation will also occur during this period. "While the forecast indicates year-to-year growth, 2002 and 2003 should be viewed as extremely volatile," says Jodoin. "If the carrier CAPEX continues to slip, 2002 and 2003 new base station deployment will be down considerably from initial forecasts."

In-Stat/MDR has also found that:

  • In 2006, there will be only two major air links deployed on a worldwide basis; CDMA at 20.8 percent share of the market (SOM) and GSM at 69.2 percent SOM. UMTS will have only a 4 percent SOM at that time.
  • GSM will dominate with almost 94 percent of deployed European base stations in 2006. However, previous rapid growth is beginning to ebb as subscriber growth diminishes.
  • Base station developments in the US will experience a dramatic decline in 2003 as a result of not only the new order downturn that occurred in 2002, but also an anticipated delay in the change over from TDMA to GSM. While activity will occur throughout 2003, systems will not be operational until early 2004.
  • Unlike North America, Latin America is expected to continue to depend heavily upon analog and TDMA through 2006. Unless there is a radical transitioning of TDMA to GSM-850, CDMA will be the primary air link at the end of the forecast period in Latin America.
  • While PDC will still dominate the Japanese landscape in 2006, NTT DoCoMo and J-Phone will be making rapid market advances with UMTS. Based on current plans, all CDMA deployments will be upgraded to at least 1xEV-DO in order to offer direct competition to UMTS data speeds.