Doug Gaff raises a very good point about ESC. I think changes are in the wind. What they are, anyone and everyone can guess. There were certainly a lot of boards and devices on display, and all the big RTOS vendors were there. There were even a couple of tools vendors there. All the booths looked great and were staffed by good people. There was enough crazy stuff going on to build on the hype (get your picture taken with the Intel chopper, count the Marilyn Monroes – I still don’t know what they were trying to sell other than awful blue bags). Being my first show, it all felt pretty cool, but pretty shallow.
The thing I found disappointing, though, was the profile and location of some of the companies I think are the innovators at the moment. Timesys was one. They were involved in the CDT in the early days. They’ve since changed their business model from a straight embedded Linux distribution vendor to a service organization for do-it-yourself’ers. I thought it was innovative, but their booth was tiny and really tucked away and hard to find. (Mind you not much smaller and tucked away than the Eclipse booth – just kidding Ian 🙂
The other was CodeSourcery. I ran across these guys on the Web when investigating gnu-based ARM toolchains to play with qemu. The more I ran into their name, the more interested in their business model I became. They contribute a lot to open source, especially with the gnu toolchain (gcc, gdb). I also see then contributing to qemu for the ARM and other target support. I don’t know a lot about their internal structure, but they must be doing well. Their booth was still outside the main hall but I noticed every time I walked by they were talking to potential customers. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to drop by myself to find out more. On the surface, though, they really look like a great example of an “open source business”. And, they call their developers “Sourcerers”. How cool is that…
But as I’ve stated in the past. I really think the model for all embedded companies has to, and in a lot of cases already is moving to a more service oriented approach. As Doug Gaff mentioned, the problems embedded developers are trying to solve is getting harder and harder. It is just plain too hard and expensive to hire full-time experts in every area you need. We’ll see over the years if this turns out to be true and we start finding those companies hidden outside the main hall inside with their own smiling Marilyn Monroes to scan your badge.