My friend Julie Jacobson wrote a piece in CE Pro magazine about her interview with Dave Mayne of Resolution Products about three standards competing for wireless domination. Today’s article features my response.
Bluetooth versus ZigBee and Z-Wave
Anyone working with wireless networks, medical devices, home automation, or The Internet of Things should benefit from understanding lessons learned with HomeRF and why it ultimately lost out as the preferred standard for wireless home networking. Here’s a subset of history from http://www.cazitech.com/HomeRF_Archives.htm
“At its peak in 2000, HomeRF represented 95% of the wireless home networking market, and most analysts viewed HomeRF as technically superior to IEEE 802.11 (Wi-Fi). Its adaptive frequency hopping technology contributed to security advantages over Wi-Fi’s encryption, as well as better interference immunity and QOS capabilities designed to carry voice, data and streaming audio & video simultaneously.
“HomeRF initially had a huge cost advantage over 802.11 and was the first to hit the magic $100 consumer price point when 802.11b NICs sold for $250 and access points went for over $1,500.”
My message is that the best technologies don’t always win in the market, and I agree with Dave that Bluetooth will likely win in the end. It has a huge economies-of-scale advantage with so many members of the Bluetooth SIG adopting it and nearly all smartphone companies embedding it. And then there’s the internal SIG politics, with just a few promoter companies doing the heavy lifting and keeping the strategy on track, while an army of adopter companies have access to the spec for free. Capable, free and cheap are powerful enablers.
BTW, I was the Marketing Chair of the HomeRF Working Group during its peak and it’s fall.