Mister Beacon Episode #37

Modules and Chips - Nordic Semiconductor

April 24, 2017

Bluetooth Smart chips are at the heart of beacons. When beacons first hit the scene, Nordic Semiconductor grabbed the largest share of the market supplying their chips to beacon manufacturers. In a brief discussion with Alf Helge Omr, Business Development Manager at Nordic, we explain how much of a beacon’s function gets supplied by the chip vendors, where their role ends and how the Bluetooth module vendors add value to the chip.


  • Steve Statler 00:03

    All right, this is Mr. Beacon. We're back at the Bluetooth SIG conference and I'm on the Nordic semiconductor stand with without alpha, what's your role within Nordic semiconductor business development manager of Nordics? And is it fair to say you've had quite a focus on beacons?

    Alf Helge Omr 00:22

    Yeah, I've done a lot of the beacons and because the last couple of years.

    Steve Statler 00:27

    So I can say this, because I don't work at Nordic. But you guys have done really well, in terms of getting wins and getting chips in a lot of the early beacons out there. So why was that? Why would Why would people gravitating to your product set in beacons?

    Alf Helge Omr 00:46

    Yeah, the Beacon 1 here is in the beginning was very popular, basically, because of the low power and also because of flash memory. So you can do reprogramming.

    Steve Statler 01:00

    So you could be commander creates a beacon, and they decide they need to update the firmware, then they can do that essentially over the air.

    Alf Helge Omr 01:08

    You can do that will give you use them next arrived, you can also include them.

    Steve Statler 01:15

    So I think it'd be really helpful for solution designers to understand how much a company like Nordic does in terms of that value chain, what are the so you don't just sell a chipset? Do you provide a bit more than that? Oh, yes, we provide the SDK. We provide software stack, everything.

    Alf Helge Omr 01:36

    Also, you can do these triggers. And actually just move let's move away from because he's doing a demo. And we so I need you to close this. So. So what's in the software stack? Do you support you provide iBeacon software? Yes, we provide everything you need for iBeacons, floor registers.

    Steve Statler 01:58

    And all of the Eddystone frame types. And so where do you fit? So I think when I was doing the research, you gave me a module to play with had an antenna and the chipset, but you're not really in the module business is that?

    Alf Helge Omr 02:18

    No, we're not making modules, but we have a lot of motor partners.

    Steve Statler 02:22

    What is a module? First, we should explain that to people. What's the difference between a chip and a module?

    Alf Helge Omr 02:27

    Well, module is old chip antenna and crystal. It's much more than that actually. Because the module vendors are also doing all the routed qualification and all the teller regulatory pistes and FCC and everything. That's a lot of work and a lot of cost to do that. So if you buy a module, then you're good to go.

    Steve Statler 02:52

    So if we wanted to get a module we might work with these guys. Sam, the stand next to you they they basically sell product with your absolutely it's a lot of vendors, we have like four different vendors. All right. Well, lastly, you guys have got the catbird seat, you've kind of got a very good view of the ecosystem because you're supplying chipsets to lots of Beacon vendors. How would you characterize sales? So far? There was a lot of hype in the early days, is that fair to say about the beacon ecosystem

    Alf Helge Omr 03:30

    It's getting more and more popular. Like in the beginning, two, three years ago, we thought that it would be one week in every corner, but it's going a little bit slower than before.

    Steve Statler 03:50

    Excellent. Okay. Well, well, I really appreciate it. Thanks very much Nordic semiconductor at the Bluetooth world. event.