|The combination of Bluetooth & NFC would hold tremendous value. However this partnership is not going to be plane sailing, particularly when we consider the slow implementation of Bluetooth into automotive applications and the business model issues hindering NFC. |
For some time, the combination of Bluetooth technology and NFC (Near Field Communication) has been seen as the perfect match of short-range wireless technologies. Despite the recent talk, they are by no means yet ready to drive off together into a golden sunset.
In many ways, the view of the technologies as complementary is well-founded. Bluetooth is now well established: according to recent research by IMS Research over half the cellular handsets shipped in 2008 will contain a Bluetooth radio, a proportion rising to three quarters by 2012. Use of wireless Bluetooth headsets is growing year by year. What NFC offers is automatic pairing of Bluetooth devices within close proximity, to help the user avoid tedious set-up procedures. The use of a Bluetooth-NFC combination in the car would seem ideal for hands-free cellular calls; news of Parrot’s first speaker system using the combination has set the ball rolling
The car industry, however, remains divided in its opinion. According to Filomena Berardi, an IMS Research analyst on the markets for NFC and on “The Wireless Car”, “They remain apprehensive; first, on whether there really is a need for the combination in the car, and second, on when the combination will be successful and widespread in mobile phones. Bluetooth IC makers are adamant that the new Bluetooth specification 2.1+EDR will eliminate many of the difficulties that plagued previous Bluetooth generations. However, security in pairing devices, which has fired up interest in NFC in mobile payments and ticketing applications, isn’t such a concern inside the car.”
Further, “Many issues in the value chain remain before NFC is as common in cellular handsets as is Bluetooth. Until it is clear there is a business case to add NFC technology, or its addition to Bluetooth is at very low cost, it seems likely the car industry will hold fire on the combination for hands-free calling.”
Only when most handsets owned by car-owners contain both Bluetooth and NFC technology, are well-wishers likely to declare it a happy marriage.