Growing pains stymie Bluetooth

The initial Bluetooth specification is out, and chipmakers such as Motorola and Intel are shipping silicon for the wireless solution. But Bluetooth-enabled devices are not appearing as quickly as many industry observers believed they would.

As with most fledgling technologies, the high introductory price point of Bluetooth has caused some equipment manufacturers, such as Palm Computing, to wait until the cost of the technology goes down.

"As soon as Bluetooth is practical - around the $US10 mark - we'll embed it in our systems," but until then Palm will pursue attachable Bluetooth adapters for early adopters, said Michael Mace, chief competitive officer at Palm.

Rob Enderle, an analyst at Giga Information Group, cites three issues: "First, [there is] the conflict between 802.11 and Bluetooth. [Wireless LAN solution] 802.11 tends to step on Bluetooth's transmission," Enderle explained. "Second, France has outlawed Bluetooth because it broadcasts over a defence band. And third, the Federal Aviation Administration doesn't want anything wandering into airline broadcasts, and there's a question as to whether Bluetooth [which is designed to constantly seek other signals] ever really turns off."

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