Don't count Bluetooth out just yet. Sure, the oft-delayed wireless connectivity protocol may seem more like the Tooth Fairy-closer to fantasy than reality-but the fact is, the problem Bluetooth addresses is only getting bigger.
Many devices still can't communicate with each other, and users wind up keying the same information into both their Palm and mobile phone because there's no easy way to link the two. Bluetooth, a technology developed by Ericsson and now supported by hundreds of manufacturers, lets these devices easily talk with one another.
Good as it sounds, Bluetooth has been slow to take off, and some observers have written it off as "vaporware," overpromised technology that never proves real. But research group Cahners In-Stat still expects a vigorous Bluetooth market, one that should reach a staggering 955 million units (such as Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones, PDAs, laptops and more) by 2005. Mobile professionals can expect to see it in many devices by the end of this year. "[Early adopters will] buy Bluetooth cards for their laptops and Bluetooth-enabled phones," says Joyce Putscher, director of Cahners' Converging Markets and Technologies Group.
She admits Bluetooth estimates have been scaled down-an earlier report pegged shipments at 1.4 billion units by 2005. But Putscher blames the dip on the slowing economy and adds that Bluetooth will prevail because its promise is powerful. "Everybody wins when Bluetooth succeeds," she says. "Bluetooth means you can get the information you need-anywhere, anytime."
Robert McGarvey is the author of How to Dotcom.