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Executive Interview: John Bruggeman, CMO of Wind River

Mar 6, 2008 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

In an interview about two weeks ago with LinuxDevices, Wind River CMO John Bruggeman sounded positively cocky about his company's fortunes. And as usual, the veteran marketer shared plenty of interesting real-world observations — along with healthy helpings of the expected marketing spin.

Asked about Wind River's reorganization, Bruggeman said it was more about agility than layoffs. “The reorganization pushed decision making deeper into the organization and made it more granular,” he said. “Previously, decisions were made at a higher level and the span of things you had to look at across a portfolio made it harder to make really fast, agile moves. Now, mobile handset decision making, for example, is already tremendously more agile.”

Bruggeman echoed Klein's thoughts on the growing role in Wind River of Linux, which the company expects to account for 41 percent of 2009 revenues. “We had pretty aggressive growth projections for Linux, but I think even our most aggressive ones were conservative. Sales of Linux-based mobile devices are really taking off.

“It used to be Linux was only considered as a solution for high end smart phones, but now it's competing on basic feature phones where all the volumes are. The feature phone/smart phone delineation is blurring very fast. Linux is a cost effective way for smart phones to get down to feature phone price sets. Microsoft and Symbian are too expensive, and in-house platforms can't get the features out fast enough. Wind River would have never have had the strategic discussions with operators a year ago like we are having now. Operators are driving the Linux agenda because it enables them to operate new services for their phones.”

So, we asked, considering Wind River's role in Android, and Wind River's role in LiMO, which way is the wind blowing?

“Within 18 to 24 months you'll see there will be three types of Linux phones: Android, LiMo, and other,” said Bruggeman. “We think three quarters of the market will be either Android or LiMo. That's a dual opportunity for Wind River, at both the Linux level and at the tools level. Vodaphone, Orange, and DoComo appear to be in the LiMo camp, and T-Mobile and some other operators will probably be Android. Operators instinctively tend to like LiMo because its model is the way they're used to doing business, but then there are a set of operators that acknowledge the world can change and they'll bet on Google.”

Why, we wondered, should developers go to Wind River to develop their Android and LiMo phones. “Integrating mobile phone hardware and software is rocket science. It's really really hard. You have a baseband application processor, sometimes a single-core solution, sometimes not, Megahertz considerations. Android, for example, is a hog. It's Java. To make that work in the very sparse memory that you have on a mobile handset and still get the performance just to complete a call, it's rocket science. Then you throw in the complexity of 3G, WiMax — really, I don't know how the middleware stack companies will make money — except for Access, which is a special case. The real money is in the hardware integration and tuning Linux to make sure it's a phone-quality distro, making it integrate into the stack.”

Could it be that the press is focusing too much on the mobile phone market, we asked? Is there really a much bigger embedded Linux story going on? “All the same services are moving from the phone to other devices, mobile internet devices, digital home devices,” said Bruggeman. “There will be tons of form factors that can connect to content, and Google has access to content. They don't have the device, but they can give access to a plethora of devices. That's why phones are interesting — they are only the tip of the iceberg.”

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