53 posts categorized "Android"


Notable Demos from ARM TechCon 2014 and JavaOne

Semiconductor intellectual property supplier ARM kicked off its annual TechCon conference and trade show in Santa Clara, CA with expansion of the mbed IoT Device Platform, including a free operating system as well as server side IoT technologies. We describe the mbed OS in more detail in a separate blog post. In this post, we’ll highlight a couple of notable demos from other vendors on the show floor, plus one from Oracle’s concurrent JavaOne conference and trade show in San Francisco. In a literal sign-of-the-times at both events, you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting a sign that read, “Internet of Things.”

At ARM TechCon the Cryptography Research division of Rambus showed an interesting demo of differential power analysis (DPA). This is a type of side channel attack based on sensing power consumption and/or emission patterns of a processor during cryptographic operations, with the objective of extracting encryption keys. Prior to seeing this demo, we had thought of DPA as an academic or theoretical exercise that either wouldn't work in the real world or would take so long as to be insignificant. But Rambus showed us exactly how it works, measuring power emissions from a Xilinx chip while it was repeatedly performing AES 128-bit symmetric encryption on short blocks of data, and running statistical analysis on the power readings to uncover the encryption key one byte worth at a time. The entire key was recovered in about two minutes. Because the process is linear with the number of bits, AES 256-bit only would have taken about four minutes. (To break 256-bit encryption by brute force methods is orders of magnitude more difficult than to break 128-bit.) In addition, the company demonstrated a simple power analysis (SPA) side channel attack by handholding a receiver antenna to the back side of an Amazon Kindle tablet (see Picture 1), and directly reading a signal containing the asymmetric key from RSA 2048-bit encryption running in software on the device. No statistical analysis was required, as a viewer could see a graphical form of the signal representing the zeros and ones (Picture 2).


Picture 1: Readng power emissions from a Kindle tablet running encryption software.


Picture 2: Kindle emissions isolated in the frequency band of the encryption key. Narrow distances between the gaps are zeros, and wider double distances between the gaps are ones. The section of the key shown reads as 0011000001.

Needless to say, we were impressed with how easily these attacks were executed, which of course was the entire point of the demos. Rambus offers side channel attack countermeasures in the form of hardware cores and software libraries, and the demos also showed how such countermeasures confound the measurements and analysis.

Green Hills Software teamed up with Freescale to demonstrate a retail POS simulation of a RAM scraper malware technique similar to the type implicated in the Target data breach, as well as a solution using INTEGRITY hypervisor to negate the malware. The protection method keeps the credit card data encrypted in a secured application space before it gets to the normal execution area, then sends the data via secure channel to the payment processor server. Only a one-time token is passed to the normal execution area of the POS system. When that token is submitted to the payment processor, the funds are approved, without the credit card data ever existing in the normal execution area, and thus rendering RAM scraping irrelevant for theft of the card data. This type of tokenization has been done before in the payment card industry (PCI), and we expect the Target data breach will increase its uptake.

And at the JavaOne event, Oracle and the French software firm Oberthur Technologies demonstrated an Android device with a Java Virtual Machine running within an ARM TrustZone trusted execution environment (TEE). Oberthur’s software runs on the server side of an Internet connection, and enables specially designed Java apps to be securely installed into the device also using a tokenization method. This is the only solution we’ve seen to date that enables applications to be remotely installed into a TEE. Although the demo was run on an Android phone, we see the potential for its use in many other types of IoT devices.


Android to Transform Medical Device Market

In an increasingly mobile environment infused with continual technological innovation, OEMs are considering new platforms to develop embedded systems. While there are various platforms to choose from, Android has emerged as the foundation of many new embedded systems. It boasts natural advantages compared to other operating systems – iOS, Blackberry, and Windows to name a few – such as its robust open source user-interface, integrated connectivity, and royalty-free licensing, which can minimize cost and provide OEMs flexibility as they try to fit technology to specific industry needs.

Emerging tools in the medical space mark the potential innovation Android can bring to health care. New diagnostic methods and software systems in mHealth (mobile health) help medical care become more accessible to consumers. Android provides a flexible environment for developers and integrated connectivity between devices, making it a preferable tool in mHealth. Android-based applications can perform various functions, from simple tasks such as keeping track of medication schedules to more advanced measurement capabilities. Consumers can attach different add-ons to their Android devices and track vitals in real-time, from blood pressure and glucose level assessments to even ultrasound imaging.

OEMs can further streamline healthcare by creating embedded systems that perform multiple functions. Rather than switch between individual add-ons to test blood pressure and glucose level, doctors would be able to use a single device and even track results that can be shared to all of the user’s Android devices. Android systems provide great user interfaces and connectivity, two key parameters OEMs are considering in developing new medical devices. Although smartphones and tablets comprise of most of the current Android market share, medical devices exhibit the highest predicted growth at 71.7% annually.

While medical devices are a prime use-case for Android, the market is still in its infancy. OEMs remain reluctant to redesign systems to run Android (or any new OS) as it often requires considerable customization. Decisions by Google and other key market participants will also hold an influence and shape the growth of Android as a software solution.

Beyond the medical space, Android OS is expanding into other markets such as connected car systems and situational awareness systems. To better understand more specific drivers of Android adoption in the medical space and others, please read through the report's executive brief. The full report, Android in the Embedded Systems Market, discusses global market trends, device class forecasts, and important insights about ecosystem participants and end-users.

by Howard Wei


VDC to Present Embeddy Awards Live at Design West

Want to see the latest technologies and tricks for embedded engineering? Head to Design West next month in San Jose, CA!

Contact us ASAP to schedule a meeting

VDC will be attending the Design West/ESC conference from Tuesday April 23 through Thursday April 25.

At the show, we will be presenting our 9th annual Embeddy Awards. The winners will be announced Live during Thursday's morning keynote session.

So how can your company win the Embeddy award?

To be considered,

First, fill out this on-line form: http://svy.mk/WU0abA

You must also schedule a meeting with VDC to discuss the announcement that you are making at the show. You can arrange a meeting time with VDC by doing one of the following:

For Software and Tools related meetings

Contact Jared Weiner, Analyst, M2M Embedded Software & Tools at:
jweiner@vdcresearch.com or 508.653.9000 x143.

For Hardware related meetings

Contact David Laing, Senior Analyst, M2M Embedded Hardware Platforms at:
dlaing@vdcresearch.com or 508.653.9000 x146.

Haven't decided if you're attending DESIGN West yet?

Please check out the DESIGN West website for more information on the conference program as well as
information on all of the companies that will be exhibiting. You can also click here to register.

We look forward to seeing you at the show!


Can Ubuntu Make a Splash in Mobile?

The start of the new year kicked off with an announcement that another open source mobile operating system will be coming to market… but this one is truly unique. The provider of one of the most popular Linux-based desktop operating systems, Canonical, recently announced a distinctive smartphone interface for its Ubuntu operating system. Aside from Android, open source platforms have had a checkered history with limited success in the smartphone environment (e.g. Openmoko, LiMo, MeeGo, webOS). Ubuntu faces much uncertainty with many challenges ahead, but its unique positioning and appeal could help it shine in an increasingly competitive and crowded market.

One of the primary goals of Canonical is to provide a unified family of interfaces for phone, PC and television devices utilizing the Ubuntu OS. Best-suited for high-end multicore “superphones,” the Ubuntu phone OS delivers a rich graphical touch interface with a full PC experience when docked with a monitor, keyboard and mouse. Canonical is also providing a free variant of Ubuntu designed to run on Android phones to immediately enter the mobile market. The OS will support web-based HTML5 and native applications.

Ubuntu has a lot of things going for it that past open source OSs did not. First and foremost, Canonical has been very successful in growing Ubuntu’s presence in enterprise desktops and server platforms across the world since its launch in 2004. The company amassed plenty of experience hosting cloud-based services and app stores, a major obstacle for new entrants to the mobile space, and developed a global market presence through leveraging partnerships with leading PC OEMs including ASUS, Dell, HP and Lenovo. Additionally, application support will be bolstered by Ubuntu’s considerable following of desktop developers and a Webkit made available by Canonical to help migrate applications from the desktop platform.

Though no open source platforms have been able to measure up to Android’s success in the smartphone arena, many network operators and OEMs would like to have an alternate available. They have recognized that the growing duopoly between Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android in the market could stifle innovation and give them too much power over industry participants and users themselves. Furthermore, an alternative operating system, like Ubuntu, could help carriers and manufacturers gain a more substantive relationship with smartphone buyers by adding their own branded offerings.

However, Ubuntu faces numerous obstacles in its quest to make a splash in the smartphone OS market. The two biggest concerns, intensely growing competition and a lack of handset provider support, permeate throughout market for mobile operating system providers. The market already accommodates two huge platforms (Android and iOS) and two others with aspirations of greatness (Windows Phone and Blackberry), and that’s just at the top. By the time the first Ubuntu-based handset comes to market at the end of 2013 (earliest), the next versions of Android and iOS will have been deployed, Blackberry 10 will have finally arrived and Microsoft will be soon-updating its own mobile software. Also, Canonical has yet to disclose any commitments by operators or handset manufacturers to support the Ubuntu operating system and few big-name “superphone” OEMs are likely to be willing to risk a high-profile launch with an unproven mobile OS.

A lot will change the landscape in the meantime leading up to Ubuntu’s eventual mobile debut. The OS contains some very innovative and inspiring design ideas, and Canonical boasts unique core strengths that make their operating system truly different from any other open source OS that has crossed the mobile environment. The new OS will have the opportunity to be a significant player in emerging markets, as well as with people already committed to open source. Though more competition would force the pace of innovation to increase, Google and Apple will be heart-pressed to relinquish any market share and will continue to add to and enhance their own platforms in a bid to stay relevant. Demand for an Ubuntu-like platform exists; it’s just a matter of getting past the crowd at the door.


Your Health… There’s an App for That

The advent of the smartphone has inexplicably changed the way we live – including how we take care of our physical selves at home. Such technology is making a number of traditionally hospital-only services and extended their availability to the general public at an affordable cost. Smartphones, combined with a peripheral sensor and mobile application, are capable of measuring temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, and other vital parameters. Such solutions make the smartphone a chief contributor to the rising adoption of telehealth systems and away-from-hospital services.

Scandu, a relatively new personalized health electronics company, has developed a product targeted towards fitness enthusiasts, dieters, and data lovers that measures six physiological parameters in about 10 seconds. The Scandu Scout, available in late 2013 and selling for less than $150, takes readings with one small sensor-studded device that transmits data to the smartphone app via Bluetooth. This device is part of a new generation of consumer health tools that enable users to make informed decisions about their health and whether they should see a doctor – further decentralizing medical services.

Another health electronics manufacturer, Zeo Inc., provides consumers with a sleep management solution that records and graphs users’ sleep patterns throughout the night. The Zeo Sleep Manager transmits data via Bluetooth to a nearby iPhone or Android smartphone through three sensors on a headband detecting electrical activity in the skin of the forehead. By knowing how much restorative REM and deep sleep users actually get, they can better manage their health and overall wellness without conducting a professional sleep study.

The smartphone is a flexible medium in which consumers are familiar with and comfortable using. With different connectivity options, growing computing power, and extensive developer communities, smartphone devices will continue to be ideal for consumer health manufacturers in centralizing their solutions. It’s a win-win for end users and manufacturers alike – manufacturers have a steady platform to work off of and end users live healthier lives.

And with our last blog for 2012, VDC would like to wish everyone a safe and happy New Years!

Don’t Forget to Lock Your Windows

Security is one of the most buzzworthy and sensationalized topics in the embedded market in recent memory. Even 60 minutes has devoted time to the topic. Although device security may not have been at top of Andy Rooney’s interest list, the threat is real.

In the same way that the devices across all facets of our lives have become more intelligent and more connected, they have simultaneously come under a sort of evolutionary entrapment. Their increased functionality has made them both more valuable and more attractive targets of attack. And this dynamic extends from everything from mobile phones to medical devices.

So why then do engineers not extend the same consideration of security across of all these device classes?

Certainly, there are some device classes more inherently at risk than others. In fact, many of the OEMs building these devices already use a range of operating systems specifically designed (or at least marketed) as addressing security, such as Green Hills Integrity, Lynuxworks LynxOS, or Wind River VxWorks. It is time that other OEMs pay attention too. Security is important

Or are they already?

Approximately 2/3 of the engineers we surveyed said that security was important to their current design. The ratio varied little based on the target OS cited as used on the engineers’ current projects. The acknowledgement of security’s importance appears ubiquitous.

A few weeks ago, I was attending the Amphion Forum in San Francisco, a conference hosted by Mocana that focused on device security. At the conference, neither engineers nor vendors made much mention of one of the leading OS vendors in the embedded market, Microsoft.Secure-Windows

While Microsoft’s PC heritage may not lend a reputation of security staunchness, its embedded SKUs do offer augmented protection over many alternatives. Furthermore, Windows Embedded’s use within many of the more intelligent, connected devices means that engineers using the OS family should absolutely place a premium on security. So what gives?

  1. In many cases, engineers – especially those not working in safety-critical device classes – are not conditioned to care about security. But investment and attention often follow catastrophe.
  2. Some engineers also take security for granted, thinking that the use of a commercial OS yields hardened end products. Although commercial OSs can help, their increasing adoption makes them a more compelling target for potential hacking or attack.
  3. Microsoft needs to ante up. Some of the disconnect is due to marketing, but the rest of it is because of products. Operating systems will never solve the entire problem; Microsoft and its customers will benefit from a broader security-focused portfolio.

2013 will bring even greater security risk. It is time for OEMs and vendors alike to step it up.



An A+ for C++

C++ now the most widely used programming language among VDC survey respondents

A common end-user data-related inquiry we receive here at VDC is about the types of programming languages used by embedded software engineers. C and C++ have long held the top spots, as we have previously noted, with C++ closing the gap in recent years.

This year, however, C++ actually overtook C as the most widely used programming language among our survey respondents:

We expect the growth of C++ to remain strong in the coming years, as object-oriented languages gain further acceptance within the development of safety-critical systems.  In particular, the Object Oriented Technology and Related Techniques (OOT & RT) supplement to DO-178C (which among other things provides guidelines for templates in C++) is expected to be particularly influential in this regard.

In addition, we have witnessed a surge in the use of Java over the last several years, in large part driven by the growing interest in Android, which of course utilizes the Java-based Dalvik virtual machine, beyond mobile. Furthermore, we anticipate that Java may also benefit from Oracle’s renewed focus on the embedded space.

Lastly, we believe that the Ada language, while holding steady around the 3% mark for the last several years, may receive a small boost following the official release of Ada 2012, which was first introduced in November 2011. The previous stable release of Ada was last amended in 2007.

VDC investigates these and other data-related trends – including segmentations by operating system type, development tool type, and processor architecture – in our recently published Embedded Systems Engineering Survey Data series of reports from our research service Strategic Insights 2012: Embedded Software & Tools Market. Over the next few weeks we will continue to share with our readers’ additional metrics and findings from the 2012 survey results so stay tuned!

So how does your development project stack up? Please let us know through your feedback, or contact us for more information.


Embedded Bits and Bytes – In case you missed these recent announcements……

AdaCore, provider of tools and expertise for the mission-critical, safety-critical, and security-critical software communities, announced that SmartSide, a Paris-based company providing Smart Metering and Smart Grid management solutions, has adopted the Ada programming language and AdaCore’s GNAT Pro development environment for the implementation of their Smart Devices platform.

ARM (NASDAQ: ARMH) announced that their relationship with Cavium has been extended to include an architecture license for the ARMv8.

Atego, a supplier of software tools and professional services for complex, mission- and safety-critical systems and software engineering has entered into an agreement with International Business Machines Corporation to acquire the IBM Rational Apex® Ada Developer product family, including the IBM Rational Apex integrated development environment.

Cadence Design Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: CDNS), a leader in global electronic design innovation, announced results for the second quarter of fiscal year 2012.

Cavium, Inc. (NASDAQ: CAVM), a leading provider of highly integrated semiconductor products that enable intelligent processing for networking, communications, and the digital home, announced its Project Thunder Initiative which will deliver a family of highly integrated, multi-core SoC processors, that will incorporate highly optimized, full custom cores built from the ground up based on 64-bit ARMv8 instruction set architecture.

Coverity, Inc., the leader in development testing, announced the that it has joined the GENIVI Alliance to help shape the future of software quality of In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) systems within the automotive industry.

DDC-I, a leading supplier of software and professional services for mission - and safety-critical applications, announced that it has added support for ARINC Specification 653 Part 1 to its DO-178B certifiable Deos real-time operating system (RTOS).

Enea (NASDAQ: OMX Nordic: ENEA), a leading operating system solution vendor for 3G and 4G infrastructure equipment, is announced their interim report for the period April to June 2012.

Esterel Technologies, a worldwide provider of model-based development solutions for critical systems and software, announced the SCADE LifeCycle Qualified Test Environment (QTE) and its interface with the LDRA tool suite.

ETAS announced plans to acquire ESCRYPT GmbH, a system house specializing in embedded
system security technologies and solutions.

Express Logic, Inc., a leader in royalty-free real-time operating systems (RTOS), introduced ThreadX-Lite for IAR Workbench. The product was jointly developed with IAR and will be sold exclusively through IAR Systems.

Freescale Semiconductor, Ltd. (NYSE: FSL) announced financial results for the second quarter ended June 29, 2012.

GrammaTech, Inc., a manufacturer of source-code analysis tools, received a Certificate of Compatibility from the Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE) program. CWE, developed by the MITRE Corporation under the sponsorship of the National Cyber Security Division of the Department of Homeland Security, provides a standard language for describing software security weaknesses.

Green Hills Software, a leading vendor of embedded software solutions, announced its Platform for Automotive Digital Instruments which includes new features of the INTEGRITY® real-time operating system (RTOS).

IAR Systems announces the release of a new version of its high-performing development tools for ARM. IAR Embedded Workbench for ARM, version 6.40, adds several new features, feature enhancements, and major optimizations.

Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC) announced second quarter revenue of $13.5 billion, operating income of $3.8 billion, net income of $2.8 billion and EPS of $0.54.

IntervalZero, Inc., announced the release of RTX 2012, the latest version of its hard real-time software that transforms Microsoft Windows into a real-time operating system (RTOS).

Klocwork Inc, the global leader in automated source code analysis (SCA) solutions for developing more secure and reliable software, announced the completion of a banner first half of 2012 highlighted by record bookings performance and achievement of the 1000 customer milestone.

Lauterbach, a leading manufacturer of hardware assisted microprocessor development tools, announced support the new AURIX TC27x family from Infineon with its TRACE32® Debugger.

LDRA, a leading provider of automated software verification, source code analysis, and test tools announced that they have extended the interface between LDRA tool suite and IAR Systems Embedded Workbench with support for platforms such as ARM, AVR, M32C, RL78, MSP430 and their evaluation boards.

LynuxWorks, a leader in the embedded safety and security software market announced the release of a new version of their LynxSecure Hypervisor that will include increased endpoint and server protection.

MathWorks announced that Simulink, Embedded Coder, and the AUTOSAR Target Production Package (ATPP) now support AUTOSAR 4.0.

Mentor Graphics Corporation (NASDAQ: MENT) announced Nucleus product integration and SMP (symmetric multiprocessing) support for the MIPS32 34K core that utilizes MIPS Technologies’ MT (hardware Multi-Threading) technology.

Micrium, a leading supplier of high-quality software components for embedded systems, announced a completely redesigned version of the innovative visualization tool uC/Probe. The new version of the tool features a highly intuitive drag-and-drop interface aimed at helping developers effortlessly create graphical representations of running embedded systems.

Microchip Technology Inc., a leading provider of microcontroller, analog and Flash-IP solutions,  announced the expansion of its stand-alone Real-Time Clock/Calendar (RTCC) portfolio with the new 10-pin, SPI MCP795XX family.

MontaVista® Software, LLC, a leader in embedded Linux commercialization announced the release of MontaVista Automotive Technology Platform (ATP) 2.0 and that it has been declared compliant to the new GENIVI Specification version 2.0 by the GENIVI Alliance.

National Instruments (NASDAQ: NATI) announced the LabVIEW FPGA IP Builder add-on, which uses leading Xilinx Vivado High-Level Synthesis technology to simplify high-performance field-programmable gate array (FPGA) algorithm design.

Parasoft Corporation, a leader in helping organizations define and deliver defect-free software efficiently, and Green Hills Software, the worldwide leader in high assurance operating systems, announced that Parasoft C/C++test, the industry's most comprehensive testing solution for C and C++ development, now supports additional Green Hills Software MULTI® environments.

Perforce Software and Assembla announced today the availability of an on demand version of Perforce Software Version Management that is integrated with team tools from Assembla.

Presagis, a leading provider of commercial-off-the shelf (COTS) modeling, simulation, and embedded graphics software, announced the latest release of its next-generation software for Human Machine Interface (HMI) development: VAPS XT v4.0 and VAPS XT-178 v4.0.

PRQA | Programming Research, a leader in static analysis, announced an upgrade to QA•C. Version 8.1 is a new release of this leading static analysis tool for C environments that incorporates improvements to its sophisticated deep-flow dataflow analysis technology and increased enforcement of the MISRA coding standards.

PTC (NASDAQ: PMTC) announced solid Q3 results, increase FY12 EPS guidance.

QNX Software Systems Limited, a global leader in software platforms for the in-car infotainment and telematics market, announced that it will collaborate with the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology, a branch of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (SIAT CAS), to establish a Center of Excellence for Embedded Software Systems in China.

Synopsys, Inc. (NASDAQ: SNPS), a world leader in software and IP used in the design, verification and manufacture of electronic components and systems, announced that it completed the acquisition of Ciranova, a privately held electronic design automation (EDA) company focused on delivering productivity improvements in custom IC design.

SYSGO, a leading provider of operating system technology, middleware, and software services for the real-time and embedded market, announced a new partnership with Rapita Systems that includes support for PikeOS, SYSGO’s SSV (Safe and Secure Virtualization Tool) in the Rapita Verification Suite (RVS) tools.

Timesys Corporation, a provider of embedded Linux solutions and professional services, announced the availability of its LinuxLink FREE and PRO Edition offerings via the ARM / Avnet Embedded Software Store.

Wind River, a wholly owned subsidiary of Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC) introduced the latest version of Wind River Simics which features a quick start capability allowing embedded developers to easily and immediately benefit from using full system simulation when developing, debugging, and testing software.

VDC Research looks forward to companies contacting us for a briefing on new announcements around products, new partnerships and alliances, or other changes within your organizations. At a minimum please make sure that we are included in your press/analyst relations distribution list for new announcements as they become public.


What You Really Need to Know About Google I/O

As we wrote last week, Android has had limited success in penetrating markets beyond smartphones, tablets, and eReaders, though interest in the platform within the embedded space has been widespread. As such, many in the embedded community had been eagerly awaiting Google I/O 2012 in anticipation of any announcement that would help further Android’s migration to other areas.


Since 2008, Google I/O – an annual San Francisco-based developer conference hosted by Google – has, among other things, been a key platform for Google to deliver major announcements around its mobile OS. Last year, the company announced Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and the Android Accessory Development Kit, and shared details of new guidelines established around how quickly devices are updated after a new platform release. (As an owner of a high-end Android device still awaiting its ICS update, I can assure you the new update guidelines have had limited effectiveness.)

So, other than Google announcing that Android had surpassed one million daily activations, what happened at this year’s conference that you need to know?

It’s time for Jelly Beans

Android-Jelly-Bean-LogoFront and center to Google I/O 2012 was the unveiling of Android 4.1, Jelly Bean. Unlike Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean is an incremental update focusing primarily on improving the user experience. To that end, Google has added vsync timing, triple buffering, and a variety of other new features to create a faster, smoother, and more responsive user interface. Much of this is encapsulated in Google’s “Project Butter,” a cleverly named initiative dedicated to ensuring that Android runs (cue the rimshot) smooth as butter.

Jelly Bean also includes upgraded functionality around accessibility and international support, and improved connectivity features such as Android Beam – a popular NFC-based technology.

While these new features are certainly compelling, it is also likely to hasten Android’s fragmentation – unless and until Google takes significant steps toward truly managing the device update process.

Still searching for an iPad killer

Google’s other main Android-related announcement at this year’s conference was the Nexus 7 tablet. The first tablet in the Nexus family, this $199 device was co-developed by Google and Asus, and features Jelly Bean running on a 7” screen and a 1.3 GHz Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor.

By and large, Android tablets have failed to gain much traction, other than a brief period of momentum by Amazon’s Kindle Fire. However, Google’s previous Nexus-branded devices have been well-received, and the $199 price point (plus access to the full catalog of Android tablet apps, unlike the Kindle Fire) may stimulate enough interest to put a modest dent in Apple’s overwhelming share lead.

Interestingly, this announcement came just days after Microsoft released details on the Surface and Surface Pro tablets. Clearly, the tablet market is ripe with major competitors seeking to replicate Apple’s success and seize its market share. To date, no one has really done either, and it’s hard to imagine that Apple is losing sleep over either of these “major” tablet announcements.

But wait, there’s more

While Jelly Bean and the Nexus 7 were the most significant Android-related items to come out of Google I/O 2012, a few other announcements warrant mentioning:

  • Nexus Q – This cloud-connected media-streaming device is similar to Apple TV and Roku, leverages media stored in Google Play, and is controlled by an Android smartphone or tablet. Curiously, Google TV took a back seat for much of this conference; could the Nexus Q ultimately become a replacement?
  • Google Glass Explorer Edition – Project Glass is an R&D program sponsored by Google and tasked with developing an augmented reality head-mounted display. Google demoed a prototype Android-powered headset at Google I/O. And as you can see in the video below, well, it’s pretty cool.


VDC investigates Android trends, market drivers, and unit shipments in our recently published report, Android in the Embedded Systems Market, from our research service Strategic Insights 2012: Embedded Software & Tools Market. Please contact us for more information.



State of the Market: Android in Embedded

Together with Apple’s iOS, Android has helped to redefine expectations with regard to user interaction and functionality in the smartphone space. The widespread success of Android and iOS are among the major factors contributing to changes in OS strategy on the part of traditional market leaders Nokia (a shift from Symbian to Windows Phone) and Research In Motion (acquisition of QNX Software Systems and shift to a QNX-based platform). Furthermore, the ubiquity of smartphones has begun to impact UI expectations in other devices classes, with interest in utilizing Android to serve these requirements continually mounting.

But while interest in Android beyond smartphones (and tablets) has been widespread, actual deployments of other types of Android-based devices have remained somewhat scarce. 

So where exactly are we today with regard to Android’s penetration in other areas?

According to our recently published report Android in the Embedded Systems Market, less than 5% of all Android-based unit shipments in 2011 were products other than smartphones, tablets, and eReaders. Among those device classes included within these estimates are military communication devices, medical devices, and connected car systems. 


Because of Android’s many pre-integrated components – GPS, wireless radio, camera – the platform is a logical solution for mobile communication devices used by the military. These types of communication devices – such as a wearable rugged computer made by GD Itronix – comprised slightly more than 1% of this market in 2011. Clearly, the use of Android within military communication devices is still in its infancy, with the potential security vulnerabilities associated with an open source platform having contributed to the relatively slow rate of adoption thus far.

When Android was first discussed as a potential fit within non-consumer devices, the medical device market was frequently cited as an area that would benefit from the user interface and graphics capabilities of the platform. Despite this interest, few OEMs have elected to include Android in their designs, and initial uptake has been slow. VDC believes that a reluctance to augment legacy designs to include Android and complications around deploying the platform in devices with real-time requirements have been the primary inhibitors to broader adoption of Android within this market. However, new use cases such as patient entertainment systems continue to emerge.

While the GENIVI Alliance has garnered much of the attention around Linux-based platforms for OEMs’ automotive in-vehicle infotainment  (IVI) platforms, Android-based IVI systems have begun to appear in the form of aftermarket solutions such as the Clarion Mirage (which runs a version of Android 2.2 customized by Wind River.) VDC expects that ongoing investments and relationships between major automotive OEMs and leading IVI solutions providers such as Microsoft and QNX Software Systems is likely to limit the adoption of this platform directly by OEMs. However, low-cost, highly functional aftermarket solutions enabled by Android offer consumers the ability to upgrade from lower-end factory-installed systems that do not take advantage of the latest in IVI innovations.

The strengths of Android make the platform a strong fit in a wide range of product categories. To date, Android has been deployed in devices ranging from televisions and set-top boxes to HMI applications in the industrial space, digital signage solutions, watches, and even ski goggles. As the effectiveness of Android beyond smartphones and tablets becomes more readily accepted, we believe new use cases for Android will continue to emerge and fuel the platform’s growth path.

However, many challenges – such as security, fragmentation, and legal issues – still remain. VDC investigates these and other trends in our recently published report, Android in the Embedded Systems Market, from our research service Strategic Insights 2012: Embedded Software & Tools Market. Please contact us for more information.

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