Bluetooth or ZigBee – on collision course in the connected home


Peter Cooney,
ABI Research
Practice Director
London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — July 13, 2012 – 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, such as the connected home – but there are also specific sections that will be more suited to one technology or the other, according to a new study by ABI Research.

Key battlegrounds include connected home devices (e.g. remote controls, TVs, STBs, etc.) and wireless sensors (medical, health, sports, home automation, etc.).

“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,” explains 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, largely driven by the substantial ecosystem of Bluetooth Smart Ready devices such as smartphones, TVs, laptops, etc.

ZigBee devices shipments will be lower but still significant, reaching over 350 million by 2016.
The growth of the Bluetooth Smart and ZigBee markets can be expected to bring many rewards to those suppliers that enter the market early and successfully dominate it, according to the study. To date, most suppliers have chosen to target only one of these two markets. For example, CSR and Nordic Semiconductor are among those pursuing the Bluetooth Smart market. Freescale Semiconductor and GreenPeak Technologies are targeting the ZigBee market.

Currently Texas Instruments is the only company to have developed ICs for both markets, as well as ANT and proprietary RF products.