Grabbing the Brass Rings
|By Aimee Kalnoskas, Editorial Director, firstname.lastname@example.org|
Four years ago when I visited Ericsson in Stockholm, all the buzz was Bluetooth. Frankly, I found more hope in making people understand where the term "Bluetooth" came from then getting multiple manufacturers to achieve interoperability with a newly adopted specification. Not that many didn't try and succeed; but more tried and failed. Perhaps the expectation level of a "killer app" contributed to some of these failures. Now, with many of the interoperability issues resolved and with chipset prices falling, technology that was designed to interconnect computers to any number of wireless devices has something of a foothold. Allied Business Intelligence (Oyster Bay, NY) expects Bluetooth chipset shipments to more than triple from 2001, reaching 33.8 million by the end of last year, and further forecasts that 2007 will see shipments of 1.1 billion chipsets. However, even analysts don't see Bluetooth as the solution for every application and many agree that there will be instances where Wi-Fi or ultrawideband technology will be more appropriate.
Following a set of design rules developed by the IEEE and formerly known as 802.11, the faster-than-Bluetooth Wi-Fi has its own set of well-known proponents. Topping the list is Intel who is expected to make Wi-Fi part of every device that carries an Intel processor. Although Intel recently delayed the launch of a Wi-Fi chip, the company is investing in other companies who are developing Wi-Fi products and is incorporating an 802.11(b) chip from Philips into its Calexico module due out later this year. Even with that heavyweight support, Wi-Fi chipsets are not expected to top $3 billion before 2006, making it just one percent of the worldwide market of telecom equipment. One percent of the market would hardly seem to make Wi-Fi the brass ring of wireless broadband that so many are grabbing at; yet the mentality of the "next big thing" is tough to get away from after so many years of "killer apps."
As we dive into another year of this new century feeling drowned by the uncertainty of the industry, it might be worth reconsidering the quest for the "big thing." Enough of the right "little things" can collectively have as impressive of an impact on our industry as that one bright and shiny brass ring.