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Microsoft, 3Com, others add teeth to Bluetooth

Microsoft, 3Com, Lucent and Motorola join the Bluetooth consortium, a group formed to promote acceptance of the wireless technology.

Microsoft, 3Com, Lucent and Motorola have joined the Bluetooth consortium to promote acceptance of the wireless technology, the companies announced today.

Bluetooth is a technology for small devices and computers to communicate without cables or wires. Bluetooth-enabled devices such as cell phones, notebook computers and PDAs (personal digital assistant) will eventually be able to swap data and information wirelessly.

The four firms join founding companies Ericsson, IBM, Intel, Nokia and Toshiba. The newcomers will start the "Promoter" group within the alliance, charged with leading the efforts to enhance the technology and promote interoperability testing.

The initiative is part of an overall industry effort to simplify the computing experience, especially as cell phones and PDAs become more prevalent as alternatives to traditional means of accessing the Internet. By doing away with cables and wires, these new devices and appliances will be able to communicate easily within corporate and home networks.

This new market is expected to be large, too. By 2005, there will be more than 670 million Bluetooth-enabled devices, according to research by Cahners In-Stat Group.

But on the road to that ubiquity, there are some serious hurdles that need to be cleared, analysts say. As with any standards body, the Bluetooth group of 1,200 adopter companies is made up of rivals and competitors, each with its own agenda.

The new "Promoter" sub-committee will ostensibly tackle just that issue. The nine-company group "will combine their respective skills to help drive the program forward," according to the group's statement. Bluetooth "is an excellent example of an organization whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts."

The next Bluetooth Developer's Conference will be held next week in Los Angeles.