Freescale and its RF4CE rival, Texas Instruments, are working with major consumer electronic OEMs, Black said, not just on TV remote controls but also for set-top boxes and other devices that use IR remotes. Freescale does not make Bluetooth chips, but is pricing its forthcoming RF4CE chips below $2, with estimates that prices will dip below $1 within four years.
"You can build an IR remote control for less than a dollar, so I'm not sure that those same buyers will be willing to pay several dollars to use Bluetooth in that application," said Black. "RF4CE is not intended to run the high data rates of which Bluetooth is capable, although you could do voice-level audio if you wanted to, but RF4CE was designed from the ground up for building inexpensive RF command-and-control devices."
The rivalry between RF4CE and Bluetooth is a chimera, according to In-Stat analyst Brian O'Rourke. He claimed that while Bluetooth 3.0 can be used for remote control applications, RF4CE leads in moving to consumer applications.
"This is very much an apples and oranges comparison: RF4CE is a low power, low data-rate replacement for today's IR remote controls, whereas Bluetooth 3.0 is optimized for the high-bandwidth wireless transmission of large amounts of data. They are about as far apart as you can get," said O'Rourke.
"Bluetooth 3.0 is an effort to increase its bandwidth, whereas RF4CE is a wireless master remote architecture for controlling not just your TV but your stereo system and elements of your PC cluster. I have not seen much interest in using Bluetooth for that application," O'Rourke added.