Ultrawideband's future as personal area networking technology seems dim: With leading UWB chipmaker WiQuest going out of business last week, with very few devices on the market two years after UWB was supposed to have its big introduction, and with apparent little interest in that changing, it's hard to see how UWB winds up in printers, cameras, laptops, desktops, and hard drives. It's not that UWB will disappear (likely): the technology has other uses, some niche, and some as mainstream as being one of the options for wireless high-definition streaming as an HDMI cable replacement.
Alereon, another chipmaker, announced today that it would acquire Certified Wireless USB assets of Stonestreet One, a firm involved in tests of UWB in mobile devices, like smartphones. Alereon's CEO Eric Broockman would like to spin the story, as he writes in his blog, that there's a very long timeframe for most new technology adoption, and that market leaders are rarely the first to capitalize on the advantages.
Right. But with Intel, a leading UWB backer, seemingly having shifted its interests; with a leading UWB chipmaker gone; with just Lenovo and Toshiba offering any kind of UWB option; with no word on any UWB-enabled peripherals going into Christmas; well, I could go on.
Broockman is certainly correct that there's always a shakeout, but I'm surprised how long UWB has been under development without any deep niche adoption. Early flavors of Wi-Fi were in devices sometimes years before standards were ratified. Airgo, for instance, had its MIMO flavor of 802.11 on the market long before competitors, and it was acquired by Qualcomm (disappearing from sight, but not unsuccessfully in terms of the investors' interest or in spreading MIMO as an essentially mandatory element of 802.11n).
I wrote more about this at Ars Technica along with the historical background.