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October - 2010 - issue > CEO Spotlight
IVI-&-Android--The-key-drivers-of-embedded-industry
Venkatesh Kumaran
Thursday, September 30, 2010
After a flat growth over the past two years, the embedded industry is at an inflection point now and I see several factors driving this. The biggest traction I see at this point is In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI). Several large automobile players such as BMW and Mercedes are investing heavily into it and is working in close collaboration with giants like Intel. But I see a lot of mid-sized company now actively looking to take a bite of this pie. At WindRiver we are bullish on what IVI has to offer and so are several Indian OEMs. The second trend in this space is building Pico LTE base stations which is on a rise with the advent of 4G. Today, the macros for 4G are all with top companies like Motorola, NSN, Alcatel Lucent and Huawei but they do not focus on Pico base stations that complement these macros. For example if a single IT park has 500 subscribers (subs) in one base stations and sees a demand for additional 50 subs then instead setting up another macro of 500 subs just set up a pico base station. Similarly, solar power based stations in rural areas is an idea that is picking up. I think in the network infrastructure side people are thinking about how to cater to increasing demands of the rural market, thus seeing a sweet spot for themselves. Finally, the biggest driving force for the embedded industry is Android. With the smartphone market taking off in a big way, with Android, the possibilities is unlimited.

While the future does paint a rosy picture for this industry, it still struggles with a big challenge – dearth of quality professionals. The industry, especially the embedded one, has a shortage of quality engineers who can people who can conceive an idea. For the engineers today understanding the complete product itself is a challenge. Though most companies are looking at university models of evangelizing technology, a lot remains to be done. The other challenge is inability of Indian companies to develop a product that is global in nature. When can we see another Huawei in India?
Perhaps this is where entrepreneurship plays an important role. The next killer product in this space will probably from a startup. From an entrepreneur stand point it is extremely important that we come up with an idea for next generation product that the world can embrace. To start with they need to capture window that major MNCs are struggling with. If they get the right idea and timing for the product there will be no holding back.

Venkatesh Kumaran is the Country Manager – India, WindRiver. A developer of embedded and mobile software, WindRiver was acquired by Intel in 2009.
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