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Study: Embedded Linux a $100M Affair

Linux, once thought of as just a server play, is poised to reap $100 million this year as an embedded operating system, according to a new research report.

Venture Development Corp. (VDC) has forecast that the market for embedded software services for Linux-based devices is on an upward trend and will "grow significantly" by 2007. In 2005, the strongest embedded Linux market was in the Americas, while EMEA is expected to be the fastest growing region through 2007.

VDC notes a number of factors that are helping to drive demand for Linux in the embedded space.

Among those is demand from developers for access to and control of source code as permitted by the open source software model. VDC also notes that there is developer demand for run-time software that is royalty free.

The increasing number of experienced Linux programmers is also helping to fuel the growth curve of Linux in the embedded space.

Wind River's entry into the Linux market in late 2004 is also cited as a driver for embedded Linux growth by VDC.

MontaVista Linux is noted by VDC to have been the leading embedded Linux OS provider in 2004, though the entry of Wind River is expected to "considerably impact the competitive landscape."

In one of the largest and most public embedded Linux consumer electronics deployments to date, MontaVista and Texas Instruments (TI) recently announced that MontaVista Linux is powering TI's new DaVinci digital signal processor -based system on a chip.

MontaVista is also a founding member of the Linux Phone Standards Forum, which aims to drive adoption of Linux in wired and wireless phones.

Earlier this year, MontaVista launched its Mobilinux framework to advance the penetration of Linux into the cell-phone market.

Embedded Linux has also found its way into the defense industry in 2005. Lockheed Martin Space Systems is using Concurrent's real-time RedHawk Linux operating system for the U.S. Army's Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) program, a strategic missile defense subsystem simulation testing program.

But VDC also cites a number of barriers to adoption of embedded Linux. Among the barriers are concerns over intellectual property protection, as well as competition from Microsoft.

A little over a year ago, VDC named Microsoft as the leading embedded OS overall in 2003 ahead of Wind River, Palm and Symbian.