The Other Qualcomm Deal
One place where BT has clearly already been successful is in headsets, and that means that handsets need a BT radio in them even if just for that purpose. That’s why Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) bought the BT assets of RF Micro Devices Inc. (Nasdaq: RFMD) recently. You can’t build a do-it-all handset without BT.
But that got me to thinking: Does this mean that BT will be around forever? I have, for some time, observed that a large installed base can mitigate a lot of other market-related factors, and there is most certainly a huge installed base of Bluetooth headsets. Yes, even I use one. Let’s suppose that we want to use ultra-wideband to replace Bluetooth -- a good choice for a radio, and BT protocols run on UWB. But will consumers buy new headsets, or will handset manufacturers need to support Bluetooth for a very long time? Its going to be expensive (in handset terms, a dollar is expensive) to put both radios in, so this might mean that UWB is going to be a tough sell to the handset guys for some time.
While BT headsets are cheap (a good one is around $20), I think it will take a very long time to phase them out. This guarantees BT a place in the handset for probably the next five years at least. Qualcomm can certainly make its money back on the RFMD deal by then.
— Craig Mathias is Principal Analyst at the Farpoint Group , an advisory firm specializing in wireless communications and mobile computing. Special to Unstrung