March 6, 2012.
Two thirds of the 821 million smartphones shipped in 2013 will include Bluetooth Smart Ready (Bluetooth 4.0), according to The World Market for Bluetooth, from IMS Research. This forecast was backed up at the recent Mobile World Congress when three announcements of new Bluetooth Smart Ready (sensor type) devices were made. This is great news for device manufacturers looking to connect to phones with a low energy technology, but things are not quite ready just yet!
Product announcements from the show, which joined Appleâ€™s iPhone 4S, Motorolaâ€™s Droid Razr, and NECs Next Media PP N-01D as smartphones including Bluetooth Smart Ready, were LGâ€™s Optimus 4X HD, HTCâ€™s One Series, as well as the Padfone from ASUS. This is positive news for manufacturers of devices from sports and fitness products, headsets, proximity sensors and watches, who have been waiting for smartphones to connect to their low energy devices, and remove the frequent battery replacement, or charging requirements that currently exist.
However, not all that glitters is gold. According to Alex West, Connectivity Research Director at IMS Research â€śWhilst Appleâ€™s iOS provides native support for Bluetooth 4.0, and Microsoft has announced that it will also support this for the upcoming Windows Phone 8 platform, the Android 4.0 platform (Ice Cream Sandwich) from Google doesnâ€™t.â€ť So whatâ€™s the problem?
Without support from the platforms, phones will still be able to connect with each other via Bluetooth, the problem will come when trying to connect to Bluetooth Smart enabled sensor devices; not great news for the device manufacturers. West continues â€śUntil a platform update is provided, manufacturers will have to choose between holding off on releasing products until Google provides an upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich (or worseâ€“ wait until the release of the Android 5.0), develop products just for the iOS and Windows platforms, or rely on support from individual phone manufacturers.â€ť
Will this delay from Google hold back the development of Bluetooth Smart enabled devices? Not significantly in the short term, with more phones being released that can support these products. However, with the exception of the iPhone 4S, all smartphones currently including Bluetooth Smart Ready are using the Android platform, so significant delays in its support of Bluetooth 4.0 could cause some device manufacturers to think twice.
IMS Research : 07/03/2012