Bluetooth Smart and ZigBee will compete in a number of new and emerging markets that require low power wireless connections and interoperability with other devices.
Key battlegrounds include connected home devices (remote controls, TVs, STBs, etc.) and wireless sensors (medical, health, sports, home automation, etc.).
When analyzing these markets holistically there will be competition between Bluetooth Smart and ZigBee but when delving deeper into the markets it is clear that there are specific sections that will be more suited to one technology or the other.
“The remote control market is one which highlights a need for both technologies, here they each have their own niches that they will be most successful in.” said Peter Cooney, ABI Research practice director,
“For simple point-to-point control, Bluetooth Smart is the obvious choice due to its massive ecosystem of interoperable devices, but for more complex systems with high node counts then ZigBee/RF4CE is expected to be more successful as Bluetooth has a limited node count in practice”.
Both technologies are expected to see rapid growth from 2013 onwards, with Bluetooth Smart enabled device shipments reaching over 1 billion annual shipments by 2016, far exceeding those for ZigBee. The success of Bluetooth Smart will be largely driven by the substantial ecosystem of Bluetooth Smart Ready devices such as smartphones, TVs, laptops, etc. Whilst lower, ZigBee devices shipments will be significant, reaching over 350 million by 2016.
The growth of both the Bluetooth Smart and ZigBee markets will bring many rewards to those suppliers that enter the market early and successfully dominate it. To date, most suppliers have chosen to target only one of these two markets. CSR and Nordic Semiconductor are among those that are pursuing the Bluetooth Smart market. Freescale Semiconductor and GreenPeak Technologies are targeting the ZigBee market. “Texas Instruments is the one supplier that stands out from the crowd and is seen as the company with the greatest potential to gain from growth in the Bluetooth Smart and ZigBee markets,” added Cooney, “it is the only company to have developed ICs for both markets, as well as ANT and proprietary RF products, which puts it in an enviable position”.