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Friday, April 13, 2007

Bluetooth market booming


I'm stunned that the Bluetooth market is still booming, as Bill McClean of market researcher IC Insights sees this as the 'Bright Spot' in the 2007 chip market with module unit shipments forecast to surge 47% this year.
According to IC Insights data, Bluetooth module unit shipments increased from virtually nothing in 2000 to 515 million last year and are forecast to grow to 1.63bn units in 2010. An interesting fact is that cumulative shipments of Bluetooth modules exceeded 1 billion in 2006. Over the 2006-2010 time period, unit shipments are forecast to grow at the strong rate of 33% per year.
The Bluetooth chipset market is forecast to expand from $1.47bn to more than $3.2bn over that 2006-2010 time period. Moreover, the ASP (average selling price) of a Bluetooth chipset in 2010 is forecast to be about one-fourth the price in 2002. Low cost is one of the main factors enabling more widespread deployment of Bluetooth technology but creates a problem for the chip makers.
There is no doubt that Bluetooth was over-hyped early on, says McClean, but as the price has dropped, the extra cost of adding Bluetooth has become easier to absorb. Bluetooth can now be found in a wide variety of products at all price levels and this is driving the growth.
Many of the leading automobile manufacturers have stated that Bluetooth will play a key role in establishing telematics applications. Given that approximately half of all cell phone calls originate from cars, and that countries increasingly are banning the use of cell phones while driving, hands-free calling in the automobile should become quite common. That application is a perfect fit for Bluetooth.
Another potentially very large market for Bluetooth devices is in stereo audio applications, especially stereo headphones for portable digital music players. It is rumored that Apple will soon launch a version of its iPod with built-in Bluetooth connectivity.
All very good news for Cambridge Silicon Radio, which dominates the market but is looking to expand out into WiFI and VOIP solutions.

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