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Bluetooth Smart charts course to widespread IoT adoption

Posted: 31 Mar 2014  Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Bluetooth Smart  TechInsight  IoT 

Bluetooth Smart has picked up popularity over the past three years. From being inconspicuous, it headed towards widespread adoption in mobile devices, and later prevailed in research involving wearable and wellness technology. This shows that the device has staked out a place in the design and architecture of the IoT.

Teardown.com of TechInsights tears down almost 400 devices annually, and in this case looks at the Bluetooth Smart adoption rate in the consumer electronic devices that have been analysed.

Bluetooth LE to Bluetooth Smart

Bluetooth Smart

Here is Bluetooth Smart as it is incorporated in the Adidas MiCoach Smart Run G76792. Source: Teardown.com

Since January 2011, Teardown.com has collected data on 547 Bluetooth enabled devices—cellular handsets, tablets, computers, gaming machines, set-top boxes, etc. Bluetooth ICs were identified and categorised by Bluetooth specification 4.0 compliance.

Our findings illustrate the fast adoption of this technology. In early 2011, the application of Bluetooth Smart was captured in approximately 10 per cent of the devices we analysed. This increased 12 months later to 56 per cent of devices. For the entire year, the adoption rate was 34 per cent. This adoption continued to accelerate; 2012 saw the use grow from 53 per cent to just more than 80 per cent, with a yearly adoption rate of 68 per cent. In 2013, the trend became a standard, with the yearly average at more than 85 per cent of phones, tablets, wearables, and more using radios built on the Bluetooth Smart standard developed by Nokia.

Teardown Chart

Bluetooth Smart race

Low-energy compliant Bluetooth (Bluetooth LE) technology was introduced by Nokia under the name Wibree in 2006. In June 2010, it was adopted into the Bluetooth Special Interest Group's specification 4.0, enabling the expanded use of Bluetooth technology in the areas where optimising power consumption of portable devices is key. The focus initially of this technology was in benefiting mobile phone battery life. In 2011, we began seeing BLE being more commonly referred to as Bluetooth Smart.

Drawing conclusions from this data, we expect to see full or nearly full adoption in 2014 and beyond as wellness and wearable use continues to expand. From a market leadership standpoint, three vendors have quickly broken from the pack in the Bluetooth Smart race. In products released in 2013, we found Qualcomm, Broadcom, and MediaTek as the providers of this technology in nearly 90 per cent of devices we analysed. Where Qualcomm and Broadcom are primarily seen in the global who's who of mobile devices, MediaTek has ramped up quickly and is seen in the leading Chinese devices.

Our data also shows that Broadcom is aggressively pursuing this market in China, especially with what we consider the high-end Chinese smartphones.

Nubia_Elife

ZTE Nubia Z5S (left) and Gionee Elife E3 (right). Source: Teardown.com

December 2013 also ushered in the new Bluetooth 4.1 specification, which is intended to improve usability, empower developer innovation, and enable the Internet of Things.

- TechInsights' Teardown.com
  EE Times





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