Nearly 1bn Bluetooth-enabled devices to ship in Asia in 2013

Nearly 1bn Bluetooth-enabled devices to ship in Asia in 2013

However, the picture is changing, especially when it comes to cellular handsets. According to ABI Research, Bluetooth-enabled equipment shipments in Asia will reach 982 million units in 2013, representing a compound annual growth rate of 39% over 2006 shipments.

"One of biggest barriers for consumers is cost," says senior analyst Andy Bae. "Consumers in Asia believe that the Bluetooth headset is comparatively expensive; they also seem to underestimate its voice quality."

Bluetooth has achieved its greatest penetration to date in mobile handsets, as mobile operators have demanded continuous support from manufacturers. In South Korea, the penetration rate in mobile phones reached 51% in 2007.

Bae adds, "Streaming music services over mobile networks, such as Japan's Chaku Uta, will be key drivers of Bluetooth inclusion in cellular handsets."

The positive uptake in the cellular sector also produces a ripple effect for other devices. With increasing consumer awareness, notebook manufacturers now consider Bluetooth to be an ideal medium for exchanging files and data with peripherals and devices such as printers and digital cameras.

Bluetooth will still face challenges from competing short-range wireless technologies. In Asia, there are home-grown technologies to deliver music, voice, and video within a small radius.

These include Binary CDMA, Wireless USB, and GiGa-Fi. Bae says that while these may have superior superior transmission capabilities, no other technology is as well suited as Bluetooth for the transmission of audio services – nor does any other technology maintain the same price points or the same well-established market position.

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