With the adoption of the WiMedia UWB standard as an international ISO/IEC standard, an increased amount of attention has been focused on the future of Certified Wireless USB and Bluetooth technologiesboth of which are (or will be) built on top of the WiMedia UWB standard.
(The next, high-speed version of Bluetooth, called Bluetooth-3, is currently being defined using the WiMedia UWB standard).
In particular, there is a gathering chorus of discussion about which protocol will "win." To this end, there has been much unfounded speculation and many ill-informed assertions about how this potential "battle" may unfold.
Being the CEO of the leading UWB company for the past four yearsthe company that was also the first to demonstrate a Bluetooth profile (OBEX) operating over UWBI have a unique perspective on this impending "battle."
Furthermore, because my company develops chips that can support either Certified Wireless USB or Bluetooth technology over WiMedia UWB, I have no particular axe to grind like the leadership of one camp or another might have.
The arguments over which protocol will ultimately triumph often proceed along a few different lines of reasoning. First: market momentum; second: technical lines, including regulatory policy; and third: end-user application scenarios.
Interestingly, what is very often ignored in these arguments are the software applications and end-user scenarios, as well as the value obtained by the major OEMs who will build the products for the consumers. My approach here is to step through the trampled fields of past analysis and pontifications, and conclude with my own view of how the market may ultimately unfold.
First, the proponents of Bluetooth-3, who celebrated its ultimate success and triumph in the standards arena last fall, include many companies closely associated with the cell phone market. They often point to the large volume of Bluetooth products shipping today as the basis for their claims that Bluetooth technology must inevitably inherit the mantel of "winner."
They like to cite that 600 million Bluetooth devices shipped last year, and that more than one billion chipsets have shipped to date. Great. Last year more than 1.9 billion products shipped with a USB port. Of these, 1.0 billion included the 480 Mbps variety of USB technology.
Unlike the Bluetooth products, which have essentially been restricted to the handset market for use as an audio cable replacement (i.e. headset connection), the USB products included PCs and PC peripheralssuch as printers, MP3 players, iPods, digital still cameras, HDTVs and of course, cell phones. Thus, USB technology serves a much broader set of products than Bluetooth.
Furthermore, for most users (aside from a few techno-geeks), the only application (and therefore associated software stack) for which Bluetooth technology is being used, is as a cable replacement for a cell phone earpiece.
In contrast, most consumers use USB connections for data transfers. These transfers include: downloading audio/video files to iPods, uploading JPEGs from a camera to a PC, printing from a PC to an attached desktop printer, synchronizing a cell phone to a PC and so on.
Although it is true that Bluetooth technology has a plethora of interesting profiles, the actual reality is that virtually no one uses them. So, by my calculations, USB technology is far more pervasive, ships more units, and is much more closely associated with data transfers than Bluetooth, and therefore "wins" the market momentum argument.