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Bluetooth Ecosystem Evolving: 5 B Annual Device Shipments Forecast By 2021

Bluetooth Ecosystem Evolving: 5 B Annual Device Shipments Forecast By 2021

Annual Bluetooth device shipments are set to reach 5 billion by 2021, with smartphones making up 43 per cent of shipments and Bluetooth Smart tech poised for growth, ABI Research has forecast.

Bluetooth Smart (also known as Bluetooth Low Energy), driven by new opportunities in beacons, home automation and wearable applications, is predicted to record 34 per cent CAGR between 2016 and 2021.

According to ABI, this will see Bluetooth Smart devices accounting for 27 per cent of total Bluetooth shipments by 2021.

“While there remain significant opportunities for Bluetooth smartphone accessories and connected home devices, there will be increasing traction toward connecting to everyday household objects,” Andrew Zignani, ABI industry analyst, observed.

“This will be driven further by mesh networking and IPv6 enhancements. Improvements in energy efficiency and range, and reductions in size, will be contributing factors accelerating shipment growth.

“However, initial mesh implementations will target less power-conscious devices, such as smart lighting, rather than beacons and more sophisticated wireless sensor network applications, due to ‘the extra power consumption that mesh will require’.”

Incorporation of Bluetooth in routers and other smart home gateways in the absence of an intermediary device, such as a smartphone or tablet, will become increasingly critical, ABI has found, while noting the competition posed by other tech.

“Though it is widening its appeal, Bluetooth faces great difficulties in gaining traction in certain markets in which other low-power wireless technologies, such as Z-Wave, 802.15.4, HaLow and Wi-Fi, are more suitable,” ABI notes.

Zignani observed that “OEMs and IC suppliers should take advantage of new enhancements to range, throughput and mesh networking in Bluetooth” in competing against other IoT connectivity tech.

“IC suppliers should specifically integrate with other connectivity solutions to enable new usage scenarios, and focus on ways to differentiate, such as by reducing size and power consumption,” he commented.

“OEMs can also utilise Bluetooth’s throughput advantage versus 802.15.4, and lower power consumption versus Wi-Fi, in order to create new and unique use cases that separate them from competing connectivity solutions.”

ABI notes that “combo solutions will become increasingly important to the market moving forward”, with integration with other tech, such as NFC, to “securely provision headless IoT devices” becoming more common.

“While suppliers such as Broadcom, Qualcomm and MediaTek are still the key drivers of Bluetooth’s overall numbers, IoT-focused players like Cypress, Nordic, TI and Silicon Labs also have significant potential for growth due to new opportunities for Bluetooth in these emerging markets,” Zignani stated.

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