HomeBuildingsBluetooth growth fixed at 20% for five years in key IoT segments

Bluetooth growth fixed at 20% for five years in key IoT segments

Annual shipments of Bluetooth devices will pass seven billion in 2026, according to the latest annual market update from the Bluetooth SIG (via ABI Research); the forecast number represents a seven percent CAGR jump on 2021, when 4.7 billion Bluetooth devices shipped. And while audio streaming remains the application heartland for Bluetooth, the technology is seeing more substantial growth as a go-to connectivity technology for low-power data transfers, indoor positioning (RTLS), and sensor networks (IoT).

Shipments of Bluetooth audio streaming devices, with the new LE Audio specification nearing completion, will reach 1.8 billion in 2026, from 1.3 billion in 2021, representing compound annual growth (CAGR) of around seven percent per annum. By comparison, shipments of data transfer devices (1.69 billion in 2026, from 0.97 billion in 2021) will jump at a rate of 12 percent per annum; more significantly, sales of RTLS location devices (568 million, from 193 million) and IoT network solutions (1.2 billion, from 486 million) will soar by 25 percent and 20 percent respectively.

In radio terms, growth is being driven by sales of the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) based devices, which will rise three-fold from today, and feature in practically all (95 percent of) Bluetooth shipments, both dual-mode with Bluetooth Classic and single-mode as BLE-only solutions, notably, for fast-growing IoT segments. Solo BLE shipments will match dual-mode sales by the end of the forecast period. But expansion of BLE, in particular, into low-power IoT (related) segments, in particular, is driving more-exponential growth. 

The Bluetooth SIG calculates 35 percent of all IoT connected devices rely on Bluetooth technology, as it stands. It said the technology market in general – and implied the IoT market in particular – has through 2021 started “quickly bouncing back toward pre-pandemic levels”. It cited market buoyancy in the analyst reports, as a basis for optimism. “In 2022, analysts expect to see a faster recovery from the pandemic than initially predicted,” it stated.

Its categorisation of ‘data transfer’ devices covers consumer wearables – fitness trackers, health monitors, and toys and tools, plus the stalwart supplies into PC peripherals and accessories. The new forecast reckons shipments of consumer Bluetooth wearables – including everyday trackers and watches, but also scanners, cameras, and smart glasses for industrial usage – will rise from 432 million in 2022 to 491 million in 2026; 29 percent of annual ‘data transfer device’ shipments will be wearables in 2026. 

For ‘location services’, mostly in high-accuracy indoor RTLS systems, Bluetooth is well used for asset tracking and indoor navigation, in venues like warehouses, hospitals, airports, stations, malls, and museums. The category also covers digital key applications, for accessing doors and spaces, and personal ‘item finding’ (consumer asset tracking) keys, wallets, kids, pets, and so on. It said 128 million Bluetooth asset tracking devices will ship in 2022, rising to 350 million in 2026.

The other big category, ‘device network solutions’, covers consumer and enterprise environments, will top one billion shipments in the period, driven mainly by  an increase in networked lighting controls and home automation systems. The SIG said: “Bluetooth has established itself as the go-to technology in many smart home solutions and is now expanding its role in home IoT.” It reckons 552 million Bluetooth-based smart home devices will ship in 2022 rising to 1.1 billion in 2026. 

It added: “Bluetooth technology has risen to be a fundamental requirement of all smart home solutions. Independent of the underlying wireless technologies (e.g., Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 802.15.4, Zigbee, Thread, Matter), all smart home solutions have chosen Bluetooth technology for device onboarding to the network.”

The latest report from the Bluetooth SIG is available here.

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