Jawanda called mesh "an interesting technology" and stressed that Bluetooth has been successful in connecting many devices and applications in the IoT market. A mesh technology is "useful" from industrial and smartphone perspectives, "but mesh is only one of the many tools Bluetooth can use" to achieve that goal.
Ratliff concurred. "I think Bluetooth Smart would certainly benefit from including mesh technology in its feature list, but Bluetooth Smart is likely to be successful in the consumer and commercial IoT regardless."
Bluetooth Smart's position as the only low-power, low-bandwidth technology in all major mobile platforms "will not be duplicated," Ratliff said. "The power of the relationship consumers have with their mobile devices will ensure that Bluetooth Smart is used quite extensively in the IoT, at least in point-to-point, master/slave kind of applications."
But mesh technology can help Bluetooth in one important aspect, he said. "Adding mesh capability will allow Bluetooth Smart to transcend the smartphone and be used in systems, rather than just appcessories."
Whenever a plan to add mesh technology to Bluetooth Smart is outlined (by CSR or Zuli), the initial industry reaction is whether such a move is intended to kill ZigBee.
According to CSR, one of the clear advantages of CSRmesh over other home automation connectivity solutions, such as Zigbee or Z-Wave, is that, as a protocol running over Bluetooth Smart, CSRmesh allows direct control from mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.) anywhere in the home. It doesn't have a limited range or require a hub.
However, Chapman knows that expecting the whole world just to switch to Bluetooth is not realistic. "Of course, that would make interoperability much easier, but it would be a very totalitarian approach," he said. "Our plan is to make our spec [CSRmesh] widely available, which would make, in turn, Bluetooth Smart's network much bigger and more reliable."
Ratliff also said there is "a lot of room for multiple technologies to exist in the IoT for many years." If ZigBee dies, "it will probably be the result of a self-inflicted wound. ZigBee has been very successful in smart meters, cable operator deployments, and now the retailers' efforts such as Home Depot's Wink and Lowe's Iris."
The Google-proposed Thread "seems to be more positioned as a ZigBee killer," he said. "Thread is very similar as it is based on 802.15.4, but it is attacking two ZigBee weaknesses: profile proliferation and IP support. Thread is foregoing any application layer standardization a la Ethernet and WiFi."
The application-layer standardization worked "for those standards in the IT space, but who knows if that approach will fly in the consumer IoT," Ratliff said. "It's a different beast. There's no Microsoft to coordinate interoperability."
For IP support, Thread went with 6LowPAN and is positioning it as the foundation of the standard. "They just want to provide rock-solid IP support in a low-power, low-bandwidth, mesh network," he said. That helps to keep it simple.