Bluetooth celebrates 20 years of market creation

9th January 2018
Joe Bush

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) kicks off its 20th anniversary year at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), a showcase for breakthrough technologies, like Bluetooth, and a global stage where next generation innovations are introduced.

Formed in 1998, the Bluetooth SIG started with a handful of companies focused on wire replacement for mobile voice and data. Today over 33,000 member companies are part of an organisation dedicated to perfecting and advancing a flexible, reliable and secure wireless connection solution.

“Since its inception, Bluetooth has continuously evolved, expanding the universe of innovative ways for things to connect,” said Mark Powell, Executive Director for Bluetooth SIG. “The Bluetooth connection is driving innovation and innovation creates major new markets. Whether it is connections for wireless audio, wearable devices, tracking assets or automating buildings, Bluetooth has been – and will continue to be – the innovative force creating new consumer, commercial and industrial markets.”

“Over the last 20 years Bluetooth has been pivotal in enabling compelling customer experiences. It has been one of the key technologies underpinning the consumer wireless revolution,” said Stuart Carlaw, Chief Research Officer at ABI Research. “The Bluetooth community continues to grow and extend as the technology enhances its specification in order to retain its prominent position in future markets including the IoT.”

For two decades, Bluetooth technology has been creating connections that power innovations and establish new markets. Before Bluetooth, the wireless audio and connected device markets did not exist. Now, nearly four billion Bluetooth devices are expected to ship in 2018 across a number of consumer, commercial, and industrial markets.

Phone, Tablet & PC Market
Phones, tablets and PCs have become portals through which people experience everything and every place. Bluetooth technology is the wireless constant in all of them, and the key to making IoT solutions accessible to everyone. 2.3 billion Bluetooth phones, tablets and PCs will ship in 2018.

Audio & Entertainment Market
Bluetooth has forever changed the way we consume media and experience the world. Bluetooth speakers will account for 66% of all speaker shipments this year, which is only a fraction of the 1.2 billion Bluetooth enabled audio and entertainment devices that will ship in 2018.

Automotive Market
Bluetooth will come as standard in 86% of all new cars, trucks and SUVs shipped in 2018. Bluetooth products have brought new levels of safety to our roads and more convenience to the in-car experience and are now enabling exciting new use cases that increase fuel efficiency, protect drivers from the effects of fatigue and better connect cars and drivers to the cities around them.

Connected Device Market
Bluetooth Low Energy (LE), introduced in 2010, is powering the connected device market, which is projected to ship 780 million Bluetooth enabled devices in 2018. By connecting billions of everyday devices and enabling the invention of countless more, Bluetooth technology is helping make the IoT vision a reality.

Smart Building Market
The 2017 release of Bluetooth mesh and recent advancements in Bluetooth broadcasting make intelligent building automation at scale a reality. With whole building coverage now a possibility, Bluetooth is expanding the definition of the smart building by enabling indoor positioning and location services that focus on enhancing the visitor experience, increasing occupant productivity, and optimising space utilisation. Seventy-five percent of the top 20 retailers have already deployed location services, and 815 million Bluetooth smart building devices are expected to ship in 2022.

Smart Industry Market
Bluetooth is leading the convergence of industry and information that will pave the way for the next industrial revolution. Forecasts project a ten-fold growth in annual shipments of Bluetooth smart industry devices by 2022. These industrial solutions will connect critical components of a manufacturer’s value stream, keeping machines, people and processes in lockstep, while driving new levels of efficiency, productivity, and safety.

Smart City Market
Bluetooth enhances the visitor experience and creates rich, personalised experiences for concert goers, museum lovers, sports fans and tourists. According to, 84% of global airports, 93% of MLB stadiums and 75% of NFL stadiums are projected to be using beacons by 2019, and location-based services deployments are expected to increase by five times by 2022.

Smart Home Market
Whether connecting TVs to soundbars or PCs to keyboards, Bluetooth technology has been at the heart of the connected home for years. With 600 million Bluetooth smart home devices forecasted to ship in 2018 alone, Bluetooth is now helping deliver the promise of the smart home.

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