RealTime IT News

Wind River Gets Smart

Smart software maker Wind River Systems Inc. capped off an important week Friday with the roll out of its graphical interface application Personal JWorks® 3.1.

This will enable developers to create user interfaces and graphics for set-top boxes, Internet appliances and car information systems. With shipments of embedded devices implementing Java technology expected to soar from 298,000 units in 1999 to 24.3 million units by 2003, according to Venture Development Corp., original equipment manufacturers will need such Java solutions for embedded systems development.

While this certainly bodes well for Wind River, the firm positioned itself even better Tuesday by signing a major deal with Ericsson Mobile Communications AB in which it agreed to plunk the greatly hyped Bluetooth wireless technology into its software.

This will grant Wind River's customers, the cash-rich OEMs, access to Bluetooth, short-range personal area networking radio technology that can be used to provide wireless connectivity for voice, data and multi-media applications.

Specifically, the Bluetooth HOST Stack and related development tools for testing and verification from Ericsson will be integrated with Wind River's operating systems and Tornado integrated development environment.

"Wind River sees innovative new technologies such as Bluetooth wireless technology integral to our rapidly broadening connectivity strategy for consumer devices," said JC Sarner, vice president and general manager of Wind River's Consumer business unit.

And if there is one thing the firm seems to have, it is foresight. Wind River, whose slogan is "Our software is how smart things think" started making embedded software in 1983. This software is a key component for smart devices -- clocks, TVs, clothes dryers -- all of it. Since smart devices have spread past the consumer market and have populated infrastructure firms, the demand for the software has soared. Computer manufacturers once developed embedded software in-house, but they no longer could keep with the swiftly-evolving technology.

Wind Rivers rivals include Sun Microsystems Inc. and Microsoft Corp., but the smaller firm's longevity has given it a clear advantage over those monoliths. That and the fact that it has forged an alliance with uber chipmaker Intel Corp.

Investors like Wind River as well. It posted a 39 percent growth in revenues in the past year and profited from 49 cents per share to date, with a projected profit of 79 cents per share for 2001.

As for its deal with Ericsson, financial terms were not made public. But the cash forked over to the Swedish firm for Bluetooth could be a pittance for Wind River if the pending popularity of the new wireless technology bears the fruit analysts say it will.

Bluetooth devices are expected to begin shipping in volume by late 2000, and estimates of sales volumes range from 700 million units (IDC) to as high as 2.1 billion units by 2005 (Merrill Lynch).

Over 2000 adopter companies have joined the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) to develop and sell Bluetooth devices, making Bluetooth wireless technology the fastest growing de facto communication standard ever. Ericsson is one of nine Bluetooth promoters.