Much has been written over the past several months regarding the state of ultrawideband (UWB) technology. The flurry of news really started last October with the news of WiQuest shutting its doors, and leading up to the recent news of TZero, another UWB startup, running out of funding.
If you do a Google news search on "UWB," the vast majority of the hits are articles declaring "UWB is dead," or at least has one foot in the grave. My marketing folks would tell me that any press is good press, but although it's true that UWB has had its share of negative publicity recently, to conclude that "UWB is dead" is a gross misinterpretation of recent events and ignores the lessons of relevant history.
I wanted to take a few moments to set the record straight on a few items pertaining to UWB that many have either been avoiding, ignoring or are just completely unaware. I have also sprinkled in a few predictions for 2009.
To this day, I remain bullish about UWB's prospects. There simply is no better technology to transfer media content wirelessly, at high-speeds and low-power. Our team has worked diligently to provide solutions that are now ready to deliver on the promise of UWB. It's been a long road and there have been missteps along the way, but what technology hasn't had to go through similar growing pains?
Here's why I believe in the future of UWB:
1. UWB is not dead
Far from it. I won't attempt to ignore the fact that times are tough. The economic backdrop is taking its toll on all sectors, not just UWB. Companies large and small are shutting their doors, and many more are operating in "survival" mode. However, is there any question that a rebound is on the horizon after the market corrects itself? The real question is "when," not "if". I believe this also applies to UWB. There are several trends that point to a need for UWB technology (see below). UWB addresses a technology need that existing or nascent technology standards simply cannot do well. The slow adoption of UWB has not been a demand issue, it's a supply issue related to available solutions. Early solutions introduced into the market suffered from performance issues, high-cost and lack of worldwide compatibility. Not to mention the standards battles that had been raging for the first few years. These are all common growing pains for any new technology standard. Is it really any surprise that companies who were unable to "cross the chasm" with a product that meets the strict market demands went out of business? TZero was pushing a proprietary implementation, hence its demise was completely predictable. We are now seeing products, however, being introduced to the market that hit all of the marks in terms of performance, cost, size, power and worldwide operation. Staccato is working to deliver solutions deliver on the promise of UWB technology so that end users can unleash the power of their consumer electronic and mobile devices. All of the barriers to entry have been removed. The game is just starting. Even Samsung recently announced a family of UWB solutions, showing that one of the largest consumer electronics makers in the world has embraced the usage models that UWB can enable. The silver lining is that WiQuest and TZero addressed a technology need that was also embraced by several marquee OEMs in the PC and consumer electronics markets. The roster of UWB companies remains impressive, including Samsung, NEC, ST-NXP Wireless, CSR, Realtek, Alereon, Wisair and Staccato. However, UWB market consolidation is still not over.
2. History will repeat itself
"Survival of the fittest" applies to the semiconductor industry in spades, and the demise of WiQuest and TZero is proof.