Module for success

Bluetooth specialist Cambridge Silicon Radio is expecting further strong growth on the back of booming demand for consumer products equipped with the short-range wireless networking technology.


Bluetooth specialist Cambridge Silicon Radio (CSR) is expecting further strong growth on the back of booming demand for consumer products equipped with the short-range wireless networking technology.


CSR, which floated on the stock market last year, spent the first half of 2005 strengthening the dominance of its Bluetooth modules in the global wireless device market.


The UK company’s technology accounted for three-quarters of Bluetooth-qualified laptops and more than 60 per cent of mobile handsets produced during the three months ending July. The quarter saw CSR notch up record sales of £54m and boost pre-tax profits by one-third to £11m.


CSR has also been on the acquisition trail. In March, it acquired Clarity Technologies for its Clear Voice Capture (CVC) technology, which enhances the audio performance of voice-based communications systems.


Last week, it continued its spending spree with the £27m purchase of the Ubinetics software business. Ubinetics, also based in Cambridge, specialises in communication protocol software for mobile phone manufacturers.


The Ubinetics deal will provide CSR with a strong R&D team and accelerate its existing software developments in Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Ultra Wide Band (UWB), said the company.  As well as its UK research team, Ubinetics employs 170 engineers in Bangalore, India, and in Shenzen, China.


With Bluetooth shipments expected to almost double to 270m units by the end of the year, CSR claims to be well placed to take advantage of emerging markets for the technology, such as the automotive sector.


Another fruitful area for the group is the increased demand to integrate Bluetooth into stereo headsets for use with mobile phones, MP3s and PCs. CSR has won design contracts with iTech, WiGear and Airlogic to use BlueCore for Bluetooth headphones designed to work with Apple’s iPod and other MP3 players.


With CSR’s BlueCore chip now in its fourth generation and featuring in 50 per cent of all Bluetooth devices worldwide, the company outlined plans for a major new product, the UniFi chip.


According to CSR, this will be the first in the world to embed the IEEE 802.11 protocol on a single chip when it enters volume production in 2006.


CSR’s chief executive, John Hodgson, claimed there is no reason why the company should run out of steam.


‘CSR’s consistent focus on leading edge design of wireless solutions and highly efficient production, coupled with our strong customer relationships, continues to pay off. Our market place remains buoyant and we continue to grow our market share.’