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FireWire set to decline?

test 10 July 2007

US: The IEEE 1394 (or FireWire) connectivity standard faces major challenges and is experiencing a “stagnating” market share, according to a new report issued by market research organisation In-Stat. Focusing on consumer markets including personal computers, the study predicts that take-up of 1394 will begin to decline from 2009 onwards, writes David Davies.

In-Stat also concludes that 1394-enabled device shipments will grow by only 0.2% annually through to 2011. Focusing in particular on digital camcorders as the centre of the 1394 “ecosystem”, the researchers found that FireWire penetration of this market segment dropped from 85% to 77% during 2005/’06.

“1394 suffers from being the second-choice technology in many product segments,” commented In-Stat analyst Brian O’Rourke. “For example, 1394’s historic one-third penetration of the PC market is now dwarfed by high-speed USB’s 100% penetration. This has helped high-speed USB become the interface of choice for PC peripherals.”

Speaking to PSN-e, however, Steven Saffer (pictured), VP engineering and product management of TC Applied Technologies – one of 1394’s staunchest advocates – insists that FireWire still has an exciting future. “TC Applied Technologies believes firmly in the future of 1394 as a consumer and professional standard for the transport of high bandwidth audio and video, and that the challenges it has faced in competing against USB as a transport [method] are being overcome,” he says. “To use the number of digital camcorders that ship with 1394 ports as a measure of the success of 1394 simply does not make sense. We are seeing a marked increase in the number of PCs, laptops and handheld devices now shipping with 1394 ports as consumers and professionals begin to demand audio-visual experiences that cannot be realised using USB.”

Noting the increasing number of pro-audio products emerging onto the market that would be “impossible to produce with USB”, Saffer goes on to detail a clutch of new developments incorporating TC’s own DICE series of 1394 chipsets, a range that has itself been swelled in recent months by a further two chips. The company also introduced its DICE Jr and DICE Mini 1394 chipsets earlier this year.


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