Custom Search

Monday, June 16, 2008

Nordic Semiconductor Sitting on the Fence; ANT+ Solidified

Nordic Semiconductor formally announced their joining to ANT+ Alliance last Thursday. (here is the announcement) Surprise and no surprise!

Nordic is currently the sole semiconductor supplier of ANT. nRF24AP1 is the only radio chip with ANT protocol embedded and its other radio chips, such as nRF24L01, are also widely used in ANT products. Is it a very natural thing for them to join this alliance? It seems also. But to join stealthily or in high pitch still makes a difference. Remember, Nordic is the founding member of Wibree, now Bluetooth Low Energy technology; and Nordic will be the major vendor of the standalone device of Bluetooth Low Energy (while CSR is the major vendor of dual mode device) Wibree was launched by Nokia in Oct 2006 and its first release of specification has slipped to Q2 next year.

What I believe behind this story is the fierce competition in between ANT and Bluetooth Low Energy, as well as Nordic's adjustment of its marketing strategy. Admitted publicly or not, Bluetooth Low Energy takes ANT as the top competing technology. I was in an industrial show, probably ESC last spring. I was bragged by the ANT booth guy that Nokia was one of the bidder to acquire Dynastream, the company that develops ANT, but Nokia lost the game to Garmin and so after that they found Wibree. Garmin's acquisition of Dynastream was announced end of 2006. So if you correlate the two dates, this story sounds close to real. Anyway, it is uncontroversial that ANT and Bluetooth Low Energy are running head to head.

I see this event an indication of the tough situation of the Bluetooth Low Energy. The specification release has been delayed twice to now Q2 2009. It is currently at version 0.5. Its name change from ULP (ultra low power) to Low Energy, likely Bluetooth Low Energy's biggest announcement this year is confusing and does not make any marketing sense. Sure there are phenomenal marketing activities, but without solid technology progress, it will only turn out to be hypes.

On the other side, ANT have made considerable progress in forming the ANT+ alliance. The first announcement is when the ANT+Sport member list hit 43 in March 6. In this news release from Nordic, we can see the expansion of ANT+Sport to ANT+, a smooth brand transition, that extends from sports to health and home applications. I also notice ANT+ has now 70 member companies, a quite significant growing speed. The member list is hidden in its simple website. An interesting note there is "not all members are listed per request". It lets me think of some big fish.

No comments:

Post a Comment