Bluetooth Shipments Exceed 1M per Week

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group, the trade association responsible for Bluetooth wireless technology, has announced that the short-range wireless technology has made its way into a record number of consumer products. For the first time, total Bluetooth product shipments worldwide exceeded one million units per week, in 3rd quarter 2003, according to trackers.

This news may come as a surprise to some as the general consumer audience is still largely unaware of the technology, but that is expected to change even as soon as this holiday season. Bluetooth wireless technology has been quietly making progress over the past year and can now be found in an impressive array of consumer products, from mobile phones and headsets to PDAs, PCs, MP3 players and even automobiles.

Bluetooth“Bluetooth has hit a major milestone in its evolution as the technology enters the maturity stage of its lifecycle. A stable specification and installed base that runs into millions of units is proof that it has been a success,” said Michael Wall, industry analyst, Frost & Sullivan. “Even critics would be hard-pressed to name any other wireless communications technology that managed to achieve the volumes and diversity of deployment of Bluetooth in just six years.”

Aside from the very compelling idea to easily connect electronic devices, many attribute this progress to the association’s strategic focus on improving the end-user experience. The foundation of this strategy, the “Five Minute Ready” program, was launched last December as a challenge to the multiple industries developing Bluetooth products to ensure consumers achieve a five-minute or less out-of-the-box experience.

“The Five Minute Ready program was a challenge that this industry issued to itself. With eyes wide open, a collective commitment was made to take this technology to the next level and deliver its promise to consumers,” said Mike McCamon, executive director of the Bluetooth SIG. “With a fresh and jointly held view on the importance of usability, developers and manufacturers are feeling even more confident about Bluetooth wireless technology – and one million products a week shipping is proof of that.”

It appears that many product manufacturers took the Five Minute Ready challenge to heart. Major announcements from manufacturers launching new consumer products with Bluetooth have hit an all-time high in the past few months:

  • Bluetooth technology is now an option in the IBM ThinkPad series, Toshiba Portégé, Dell Latitude D800, Sony Vaio, and other PCs, and comes standard in Apple’s G4 PowerBooks.
  • Auto manufacturers American Honda Motor Company (Accura division), Audi, DaimlerChrylser Corporation, Ford Motor Company (Lincoln division), and Toyota Motor Corporation (Lexus division and in the new Prius) all recently announced plans of Bluetooth connectivity in the automobile, joining the ranks of General Motors Corporation, BMW and many others which have already shipped cars with Bluetooth technology, giving drivers a true hands-free calling experience.
  • Apple and Logitech brought personal computer peripheral products to market, announcing new wireless keyboards and mice.
  • The gaming industry shows huge promise – the Nokia N-Gage hit shelves October 7 and Tapwave’s Zodiac gaming device will be available in early November.
  • Handheld manufacturers such as Palm and HP continue to innovate handheld devices – Palm recently unveiled the Tungsten T3 handheld and HP launched new models of the iPaq.

New market segments continue to open up for Bluetooth wireless technology applications as well. The adoption of the Audio/Visual profile and other important application profiles earlier this year are already showing up in products like wireless stereophonic headsets and are expected to result in exciting new products on the market in coming months that include groundbreaking new applications with Bluetooth wireless technology.

“The hype fantasy is finally meeting the product reality where Bluetooth wireless technology is concerned. Current applications and products are getting better and new, viable applications and solutions are on the horizon,” said David Whitlinger, strategic analyst of the system technologies lab at Intel. “One million products shipping per week is just the beginning.”

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And they said it wouldn't work!

RhinoSteve @ 11/4/2003 10:09:43 AM #
I'm so glad tht critical mass is hitting for Bluetooth and it is becoming as common as everyone hoped. In so, it is going to be so much easier of a sale for this to get into more vertical designs.

I think I'm going to forward this to a pair of hardware designers that refused to work with us three years ago after they said Bluetooth is "not going to make it" and "has too much software running it to make it work well." A shame seeing a technology overwhelm seasoned vets -- even in this field.

Amazing how many board designers out there that scream "If I can't see it in my hands, I'm not working with it!!"

RE: And they said it wouldn't work!
The Ugly Tooth @ 11/4/2003 10:51:11 AM #
It's about time cordless cords has been implemented and becoming a standard.

"Sometimes the tooth just isn't pretty"

bt+bt = compatibility?

acorntree @ 11/4/2003 12:23:06 PM #
Here's a suggestion for a poll.
How many pple believe that
a bluetooth keyboard should
work on a bt equiped palm.
How many pple believe it will?

I'm being a cynic... considering
how hard/long it took for them
to sort out the pda+phone+computer
connection, I doubt that it will

RE: bt+bt = compatibility?
ankers @ 11/6/2003 2:12:35 AM #
I keep hearing about pairing problems but my own experience - pairing two Tungstens with a phone and a PC - and that of three colleagues - pairing phones and (third party) headsets - has been completely painless.

That said, I am not so sure about a Bt keyboard for different reasons. Most importantly, the impact on battery life; also, because of the challenge of getting the PDA at a convenient viewing angle. Imagine trying to do this on airline tray table with whatever is to hand. My Palm keyboard avoids both problems.


a Brit in Clogland

How much revenue for BT?

twocents @ 11/4/2003 2:03:29 PM #
1M units per week! How much is BT making on each unit?

This sounds pretty good but...

JarJar @ 11/4/2003 4:10:41 PM #
1M per week sounds good, but remember it is only the license. For example, there are phones that have the bluetooth instruction set, but the bluetooth isn't actually being used, it is just part of the chip design for all units.

Even 2 years ago, the bluetooth numbers were quite impressive, though very people were using bluetooth in the "real" world.

Today, more and more people (including myself) are actually using bluetooth, but the numbers are way hyper-inflated.

Bluetoothless is a joke. What is it REALLY good for?

The Ugly Truth @ 11/5/2003 3:39:08 AM #
Answer: Next to nothing.

Bluetoothless' public relations firms have been working overtime during the past three years, trying to create the illusion that Bluetoothless is the "next big thing" (to borrow a certain Handspring executive's favorite phrase). Perhaps the hope is that if they say Bluetothless is a success enough times, it will really happen. If only the same degree of effort had been spent on making Bluetoothless devices actually work, maybe it would actually be useful by now.

So what does Bluetoothless have to show for itself after all these years?

1) Ridiculously overpriced headsets that make it sound like you're either talking from the bottom of a well or using a couple of tin cans connected by string. The Sony Ericsson HBH-60 is a nice design, but what headset is really worth $150 - $200?

2) Bluetoothless to small PDA (like Palm's T³) for wireless access to email and web anywhere.

And that's about it. Everything else is either vaporware or from the Rube Goldberg School of Design. Very impressive. So now they're shipping "billions and billions" of Bluetoothless-enabled devices every second? Does that include the chips packaged in Bluetoothless Brand bubblegum? How about a breakdown of what products contain those chips and - more importantly - how many are actually being used. Bluetoothless is even less popuplar with non-geek Palm users than that perennial pariah, Mr. Infrared Port.

Of course, if the Treo 600 "issues" aren't cleared up soon, I'll probably be stuck with using a T610/HBH-60/UX-xx combo (the Bluetoothless Unholy Trinity) by default.

Sometimes the truth just isn't pretty™

RE: Bluetoothless is a joke. What is it REALLY good for?
Strider_mt2k @ 11/5/2003 8:07:41 AM #
Ahh man, don't start bashing Mr. IR!
He's our friend!

Besides, BT won't let you change the channel at the airport bar.

RE: Bluetoothless is a joke. What is it REALLY good for?
The Ugly Truth @ 11/5/2003 10:04:17 AM #
Besides, BT won't let you change the channel at the airport bar.

Now that's just evil. You must have one of those CLIES with the megawatt IR tansmitter...

Sometimes the truth just isn't pretty™

RE: Bluetoothless is a joke. What is it REALLY good for?
JetsFlyer @ 11/5/2003 12:50:15 PM #
I gotta agree! What's it good for?? I absolutely needed it on my T3, NOW, FOR What, Where, and how do I use it?


RE: Bluetoothless is a joke. What is it REALLY good for?
Altema @ 11/5/2003 1:20:25 PM #
Guess it depends on what equipment you have. A BT device by itself is just as useless as... well, a wi-fi device by itself. However you throw a T|T in with a phone, a couple of laptops, a GOOD sounding headset, plus a couple of friends with BT handhelds and it is a different story.

An engineer trouble shooting a server in a basement can stick his/her BT phone on the windowsill, work on the equipment while talking, and control the phone with their Palm. How about configuring a network switch or core... from a desolate parking lot 200 miles away? No problem, been there done that. Then there is getting to your email from anywhere, when you are traveling at 70 Mph in the interstate (PASSENGER, please) or when your co-worker is having a private meeting in YOUR office and you can't get directly to your PC, or even being able to pull your email down across a T1 line to your Palm... overkill, but speed sure is fun!

I could go on, but don't feel like writing an article today ;)

PS: Thanks for telling me which headset NOT to buy, I'll stick with the one I have now.

RE: Bluetoothless is a joke. What is it REALLY good for?
ganoe @ 11/6/2003 1:19:58 AM #
Hmmm ... I can't wait to get my PowerBook G4 with wireless Bluetooth mouse and I can connect to the Internet with it on the road with my Bluetooth phone. Then I can figure out where I am with my Bluetooth GPS. Oh, and I can interconnect all that with my Bluetooth PDA as well.

Even better, I don't have to seek out and carry $40 proprietary cables just to hook it all up. Plus it's all standards-based so I can use it with other devices in the future.

Yep, it's useless.

RE: Bluetoothless is a joke. What is it REALLY good for?
The Ugly Truth @ 11/6/2003 10:24:33 AM #
Yep, it's useless.

Nice to hear you agree. But once those Bluetoothless toothbrushes come out, that will change everything.

Sometimes the truth just isn't pretty™