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Wireless behind the wheel

Cars to drive consumer Bluetooth adoption

Consumer adoption of the Bluetooth wireless technology will be driven by hands-free use of mobile phones in cars, not by PCs and cordless keyboards, according to a UBS Warburg LLC research report.

"We believe the catalyst for increased consumer penetration [of Bluetooth] will be in-vehicle hands-free communications devices," says the report.

"We do think PC support of Bluetooth is significant, but when looking at consumers we feel that cars are strategically the important market," said Weiyee In, lead writer on the report.

Adoption of Bluetooth in cars, boosted by laws curbing mobile phone use while driving, could even spawn a whole new set of applications according to In. Cars may become part of a web services connected world.

Car maker DaimlerChrysler has said it will start offering a Bluetooth hands-free kit in the fourth quarter of this year. A DaimlerChrysler executive said in-vehicle, hands-free communications will be "the dominant application that will determine the long-term success or failure of Bluetooth".

But the industry and analysts seem to disagree about what will drive Bluetooth. Kyle Martin, senior director of sales for Silicon Wave, a Bluetooth silicon vendor, has said that Microsoft's support will "open the floodgates to a host of Bluetooth applications".

But it remains to be seen what will prove to be the killer app that leads to mass Bluetooth adoption, and many believe that this eventuality is still years away.


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