Bluetooth profile implementation in handsets is a pretty dry subject. But with Bluetooth capability available in six out of every ten handsets sold worldwide this year
, the subject is an important one for product planners.
Even the savviest consumers likely only know to look for a few key profiles when buying a phone. A2DP
is one that has received some attention, as it allow the delivery of stereo music to Bluetooth headphones or Bluetooth-capable vehicles. According to our latest forecast
, A2DP support will be found in three-quarters of all Bluetooth phones sold this year.
Another profile, AVRCP
, was designed to allow Bluetooth devices to remotely control each other. The Bluetooth SIG
’s example is an outdated scenario, where a PC controls a supposedly Bluetooth-capable VCR. However, where AVRCP really shines is as a companion to A2DP
A common usage scenario is in the vehicle, where a consumer can listen to music through the speakers (A2DP) and change tracks via the car’s controls (AVRCP). I can say from personal experience that at least one user was delighted to learn that he could advance tracks streaming to his BlackBerry’s Pandora client via the car’s steering wheel. The potential impact on stickiness is quite powerful when a handset feature can delight a user.
is a profile that still has fairly low penetration around the globe (the highest is in Western Europe, by the way), but it will experience strong growth in the coming years. The profile allows the transfer of phonebook data to other devices (e.g., to an in-vehicle display). Carmakers, such as BMW, Ford, and Nissan, are increasingly supporting PBAP in their vehicles, and this trend should give long-term uplift to the profile’s penetration in handsets.
Not all profile implementations were “created equal,” however, and simply having a profile does not necessarily mean that it will work as expected. Apple
, for example, supports AVRCP on its iPhone, but it does not support
audio track advancement, which is surprising for such a media-capable device. The inconsistency of implementation among vendors can be a disappointment and a point of frustration to users
The lack of consumer awareness
of Bluetooth profiles and their benefits remains an issue for the technology, largely because of cryptic, unmarketable names. Perhaps key industry players could rally toward using more intuitive names (e.g., “In-Car Audio Control”) to help illustrate use cases and engage consumers
Ultimately, we expect handset vendors to prioritize the profiles that drive stickiness and can be directly associated with carrier ARPU
. This can mean simply enabling in-vehicle calling with profiles like HFP or even, ultimately, helping to link the phone to a multi-platform connected device framework
Bluetooth Phone Sales by Profile