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Windows CE stalwart takes a walk on the Linux side

Sep 14, 2005 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

Windows CE stalwart Bsquare is shipping a Linux version of its SDIO stack, saying the move could double product revenue. The “SDIO Now!” stack supports MMC (multimedia card) and SD (secure digital) storage devices, as well as SDIO (secure digital input/output) peripherals like cameras and GPS, WiFi, and RFID radios.

In support of its decision to “go Linux,” Bsquare cites IDC research from July suggesting that Linux and Windows are neck-and-neck behind Symbian in the market for “converged mobile device” operating systems. IDC says 22 million converged mobile devices shipped in 2004, and forecasts shipments of 167 million devices by 2009 — by which time Linux and Windows will share about 34 percent of the market, IDC estimates.

Converged mobile devices such as mobile phones, personal media players, and PDAs with mobile phone functionality represent the bulk of the market for SDIO, a standardized interface for peripherals such as wireless radios, modems, and cameras that are shoe-horned into cards the size of SD/MMC cards. Typically, SDIO card slots support both SD/MMC memory cards and SDIO devices, much like CompactFlash slots support both Flash cards and CFIO devices.

SDIO Now! has shipped for two years on Windows CE and Windows Mobile. It will compete in the Linux market with proprietary SDIO stacks from Codetelligence, Embwise, and others.

The SDIO Now! stack will also compete with several freely available community SDIO stacks. However, questions have arisen about whether drivers created with unlicensed copies of the SD Card standard could expose companies using those drivers in commercial products to legal liabilities; the SD Card Association — which was founded in January of 2000 by Matsushita (Panasonic), SanDisk, and Toshiba — charges $1,000 for copies of the SD Card specification. SD Card Association Executive Director Paul Reinhardt did not respond to inquiries by publication time.

Bsquare says its SDIO Now! stack can help customers keep current with “the ever-changing requirements of higher density memory cards,” while providing advanced security capabilities — not to mention freeing developers from actually having to write drivers.

VP of Products Pawan Gupta adds, “Bsquare is effectively doubling [SDIO Now!'s] potential addressable market, and we expect to increase revenue accordingly.”

Bsquare CEO Brian Crowley said, “The expansion of our SDIO product line is an important part of our overall strategy to diversify our revenue stream.”

Bsquare has long offered software stacks for Windows CE — a market toward which Microsoft itself is currently directing considerable resources.

Bsquare may additionally have gained customers in the Linux space through it's July acquisition of certain assets from Vibren.

The publicly traded company has struggled to reach profitability over the last several years and reported a nearly break-even quarter in Q2-05.

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