Though Bluetooth hasn’t achieved the type of “instant ubiquity” promised by early vendor and analyst estimates, tech columnist Jason Brooks thinks the low-power, wireless personal networking standard has a solid future and will provide strong “spokes” for Apple’s digital hub vision.
Though Apple was hesitant about committing to Bluetooth for some time, the technology now figures into the company’s current and future plans. On March 20, the company previewed its Bluetooth technology for Mac OS X, enabling short-range wireless connectivity between a Mac and a variety of digital devices, including Bluetooth-enabled PDAs and cell phones. Apple has made a preview version of its Bluetooth software for Mac OS X available as a free software download and is offering a Bluetooth USB adaptor from D-Link, which can Bluetooth-enable any USB-based Mac for US for $49.
“In a position unique among computer makers, Apple enjoys tight control over both the hardware and software it markets, and has successfully traded on this arrangement to push new technologies such as 802.11b, FireWire and USB on to its customers — and subsequently, into the mainstream,” Brooks writes in a new
column. “That’s why it was good to see Apple previewing a Bluetooth solution for OS X at Macworld Expo in March, thereby filling the firm’s Bluetooth cavity.”
He’s been test-driving Apple’s Bluetooth solution. Brooks is impressed with the small size of the D-Link adapter (“it’s only about an inch and a half long, and it’s wider than necessary to accommodate the USB port into which it plugs”) and its nice price (“3Com charges $124 for its own, much larger USB Bluetooth adapters”). As for the software itself, though it’s a “preview version,” he had no problems with it.
“Of course, the software doesn’t do very much yet, either,” Brooks said. “I was able wirelessly to exchange files between two Bluetooth-equipped Macs at speeds around 70KB per second. The software also allows for wireless HotSyncing of Palm handhelds and for forging links between Macs and Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones.”
Bluetooth will make for “great spokes” for Apple’s digital hub vision, he feels. “Peripherals such as Bluetooth keyboards and mice are now on their way, along with a constellation of other devices,” Brooks says. “Before too long, expect to begin seeing Bluetooth featured prominently on a Mac near you.”