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Bluetooth may be several years late but it's going to be a great success and 26.2 million Bluetooth-enabled mobiles will be sold next year, a new report by ARC Group claims.

But that's nothing compared to the 100 million Bluetooth handsets which will be sold in 2003 when 3G networks start kicking in. From there the numbers get staggeringly big and you have to switch to percentages - 71 per cent of all mobiles sold in 2006 will have Bluetooth, it says.

The report is called "Bluetooth - Personal Area Networks" - presumably a reference to the frequent confusion that Bluetooth is somehow a direct rival to 802.11, the wireless protocol for Local Area Networks.

Its author, Karen Walsh, thinks Bluetooth is wonderful. "The technology will be instrumental in facilitating consumer interest in handset renewal and the uptake of even more sophisticated data services, which in turn will lead to increased data traffic and Average Revenue Per User," she says without pausing for breath.

One key factor behind its takeup apparently is its ability to "allow consumers to bridge between the Internet and their personal portable devices". 3G will "increase the value of Bluetooth mobile phones" and "PDAs are also expected to play a big role in early Bluetooth adoption, especially among professional users".

The Arc Group report is one of a long line of "Bluetooth is Great" surveys: in January this yearFrost & Sullivan forecast that 11 million Bluetooth units would be shipped this year. We're now in November and unless there is a sudden, mind-blowing Bluetooth Xmas frenzy, that figure will not be reached.

And even with such a frenzy (we're assuming limitless supply), there's just no way the 56 million units that Allied Business Intelligence predicted in September last year will be sold.

ARC's report estimates Bluetooth-enabled unit shipments this year at 1.5 million.

Sales projections aside, Bluetooth is finally finally ready and the technology is set to be the star of the show at Comdex next week. Who knows what next year will bring. ®

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