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Electronics Production | November 25, 2004

Ericsson exit Bluetooth, NOT a Doomsday Scenario

Many industry pundits identified that the closure of Ericsson Technology Licensing (ETL) has spelt the death knell for the long-term future of Bluetooth. However, IMS Research believes the main reason for the closure of ETL is that they could not see a long-term viable future for their IP licensing model.
The Bluetooth market has developed much more rapidly than was anticipated 18 months ago. IC prices have plummeted, volumes have soared and the market has moved sharply towards single-chip solutions. Although Ericsson has an established customer base within a number of notable IC vendors, the dramatic fall in IC prices has prevented new IC players (prospective customers for ETL) from successfully entering the market.

Another contributory factor in the ETL decision could be that the business does not seem to fit well within the new Ericsson. Since the handset activity was spun off into the Sony-Ericsson JV, Ericsson itself has become primarily an infrastructure company, and Bluetooth has few applications in this area.

Senior Bluetooth Analyst, Stuart Carlaw went on to add, “Looking ahead to the long term future of Bluetooth, we are extremely bullish about Bluetooth. The various competitive technologies are all struggling to overcome some key barriers. Our evidence suggests that the Bluetooth market is going from strength to strength with consecutive record shipments of IC's in the last three quarters, and shipments now exceeding 3MU per week. Also, there are some pretty interesting new markets that are beginning to open up that could well spell another increase in growth for the Bluetooth market rather than the doomsday scenario portrayed by others."

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