As indexes got snatched up by exchange-traded fund launches, firms turned to more and more esoteric investments. But with the popularity of the $604 billion ETF industry growing so quickly—assets are up 64$ or $54 billion over the past year—newcomers to the field are going back to the basics, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Take PIMCO, which has launched two bond ETFs, one tied to the Merrill Lynch 1-3 Year U.S. Treasury Index and the other to the Merrill Lynch 1-5 Year U.S. Inflation-Linked Treasury Index.

Charles Schwab has registered three ETFs, all linked to FTSE indexes. Old Mutual has five ETFs in registration, also linked to the FTSE.

But some industry watchers don’t think the new ETFs will be able to compete with entrenched players, like Barclays. With the exception of PIMCO's recent TIPS ETF offering, “I’m surprised at how vanilla the offerings are,” said Matt Hougan, editor of Index Universe. “There’s nothing new there at all.”

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