The blue link

Bluetooth hasn't lived up to its hype, but only because users and the channel have so far failed to embrace it, says Seamus...

Bluetooth hasn't lived up to its hype, but only because users and the channel have so far failed to embrace it, says Seamus Twohig. but now the revolution is happening and resellers are well placed to make a killing.

Whenever the latest 'killer application' to hit the market is announced, it always manages to whip up a furore among IT professionals, especially when the product is said to be a revolutionary method of mobile working practices.

So, when Bluetooth was first unveiled to the world, bringing all the promises of mobile offices and e-mail without cables, the IT industry couldn't contain itself.

But to this day, the channel and end-users alike still haven't had the chance to embrace Bluetooth, because the useable product hasn't been available.

PANs people
In late 2001, vendors launched products that would finally deliver Bluetooth and the dream of remote working to end-users, perfect for the busy executives flitting between their offices and meetings.

The idea of being able to link a mobile with a laptop, thus creating a private area network (PAN) was so tempting, that when the first batch of products from vendors such as Toshiba, Hewlett-Packard, 3Com and Motorola finally hit market, the end-user early adopters were falling over themselves to get Bluetooth-enabled.

Rising appeal
According to the main players in the Bluetooth arena, this technology is the answer to everyone's networking dreams without any risk to security.

Mobile phone ownership in the UK has increased by 47 per cent over 18 months, and as Bluetooth enhances hand-held usability this new market will grow at a similar fast pace.

With an estimated 40 million Bluetooth products being shipped in 2002, consumer uptake is anticipated to dramatically pick up, with the figure looking to grow to more than 125 million by 2003.

So what is the channel doing to harness its already established mobile and wireless expertise towards bringing revenue from the Bluetooth revolution, which is expected to exceed $2 billion by 2006?

As Bluetooth does not represent a great diversification from these technologies, the reseller can easily open up new revenue streams by delivering expertise in this market, offering the type of packages that would suit home and business users.

Smart portfolio
The way businesses operate has changed over the last few years, especially since the advent of the Internet. They are increasingly expected to be available beyond the nine-to-five norm, with Internet and global business demanding 24/7 availability.

Wireless technologies give employees the ability to be available on the move, and the reseller community should tap this potential to help companies create high-availability and meet the demands of a changing business environment.

This is where the smart resellers can take advantage of the market and increase their portfolio for this relatively virgin territory.

Many resellers can use the knowledge that already exists from dealing with the current technologies Bluetooth has evolved from. This means that the vast amount of time and money spent product training can be lessened.

Resellers have to concentrate on building their product ranges to fit their target markets, whether these are consumers using their laptops and phones to download MP3s while on a long train journey, or business users requiring a wireless office using a PAN for hotdesking.

Resellers have never had a better opportunity to expand their revenue opportunities without having to invest too heavily into the process.

Get on board
What lies ahead for Bluetooth in the channel? Some resellers will make a killing from a well thought-out promotional strategy of Bluetooth products.

Others will not have taken advantage of their existing knowledge-base and will be wishing they hadn't been so sceptical of the wireless revolution while it was in its infancy.

So whatever you do, don't miss the Bluetooth boat.

Seamus Twohig is director of product management at Ideal Hardware

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