2.5 billion Bluetooth low energy chipsets to ship in 2014

DigiTimes: The first Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) products are already lining up, ahead of a specification ratified by the Bluetooth SIG.

According to a recent study from ABI Research, the BLE market will develop in two very separate stages. How well the players in each stage understand the technology and its potential will determine its success.

BLE is supported by two different technology implementations: dual mode and single mode ICs. By and large the two modes of IC will also be produced by two different groups of vendors, with each dependant on the investment and commitment of the other.

Next year, single mode ICs will account for less than 3% of BLE chipset shipments. Just over 2.5 billion BLE chipsets will ship in 2014 in a market that will grow at 78% CAGR between 2009 and 2014; but less than a third of those shipments will be for the single mode ICs.

“BLE will enter the market in two stages,” says principal analyst Jonathan Collins. “First with support for BLE embedded in mobile handsets, and then a second stage when BLE devices come to market. Key is that both dual mode and single mode suppliers are confident that each will deliver and support BLE.”

BLE will enable sensors and monitors to communicate with mobile handsets and other BLE-enabled devices using very low power communications. While existing low power short range applications such as sports and fitness equipment will be the first devices to market, there is further potential for more serious BLE health monitoring applications.

“The technology will be incorporated in the Bluetooth ICs at a relatively minimal additional cost to existing Bluetooth chipset vendors who will deliver the bulk of dual-mode ICs,” says Collins. “But BLE’s success will depend on the commitment of single mode IC vendors to invest in producing these chipsets and their conviction that they will get good return from their efforts.”

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