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Embedded OS vendors thrive despite Linux

Sep 11, 2007 — by Jonathan Angel — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

The overall market for embedded operating systems increased more than 20 percent in 2006, according to a new study of the global marketplace by Venture Development Corp. (VDC). However, operating system suppliers are under increasing pressure from Linux, the research firm says.

The study defines embedded operating systems as being both real-time operating systems (RTOSes) and non real-time OSes that are being used in embedded applications. It defines mobile application operating systems as a subset of the above, where “the OS's primary function is for executing software applications that the user often loads after the device has shipped from the manufacturer.”

According to VDC's analysis of embedded operating system shipments worldwide, the leading suppliers — presumably ordered according to revenue — are:

  • Microsoft
  • Wind River Systems
  • Symbian
  • Green Hills Software
  • ENEA

Other market share leaders are said to be:

  • MontaVista Software
  • QNX Software Systems
  • Mentor Graphics
  • LynuxWorks

Though dollar figures are being released only to purchasers of the study, VDC's analysis tracks the value of worldwide shipments of embedded operating systems, bundled products, and related services — segmenting them by product type, category, vertical market, and geographic region. As well as publishing figures for 2006, the firm provides forecasts through 2009.

Revenue growth occurred across all geographic regions, the study says, though the percent of revenue attributed to the Americas continued to decrease, while the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) and Asia-Pacific regions increased. Mobile phones are the leading source of revenue, accounting for more than 20 percent of shipments, VDC says.

The medical and automotive segments are also forecast to grow, while industrial automation and military/aerospace markets are reliable market drivers, the firm said.

Runtime royalties still increasing, despite Linux

Despite a booming market, not all was rosy for vendors. “Revenue from product licenses (for upfront development and bundled products), subscriptions, related services, and support decreased slightly in 2006,” according to the study.

Runtime royalties as a percentage of revenue increased, but “more moderately,” VDC says. The blame for this can be laid squarely at the door of the penguin, according to the study: “Open source … will increase downward pressure on revenue from runtime business models. We expect OEMs to increasingly look to Linux as a maturing solution (for) … projects characterized by high-volume shipments, price sensitivity, and acute time to market.”

Unsurprisingly, VDC suggests that vendors “move to a more middle ground in the face of Linux and open source.” They should “look to become more creative and take advantage of (its) perceived benefits.”

Factors that will continue to help drive sales, according to the study, include:

  • Improving relationships between embedded software solution providers and silicon and board suppliers
  • Software solutions that address a whole spectrum of requirements, including hardware optimization, development, test, deployment, and management
  • Increased focus on expanding product offerings to include complementary middleware support
  • For smaller players, development of new partner relationships, cost-effective Web advertising, and presence at specific trade shows

The study, “Embedded Software Market Intelligence, Volume 1: Embedded/Real-Time and Mobile Application Operating Systems,” has 104 pages and costs $6,250. It is available for purchase here.

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