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9/27/2006
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Challenges Ahead For Embedded Sector, Experts Say

One recent survey found that more than a third of all embedded projects are late and nearly 13% are canceled.

BOSTON — The embedded electronics industry faces financial and technology challenges that must be overcome for the industry to grow, industry experts said.

Joseph Raffa, venture partner with Adams Capital Management, and Chris Lanfear, director of embedded software research for Venture Development Corp., analyzed the landscape from those two perspectives during a Tuesday (Sept. 26) panel at the Embedded Systems Conference moderated by Embedded System Design Editor-in-Chief Richard Nass.

For startups to thrive in the embedded sector, the market needs to be bigger. "This is a big challenge in embedded systems," Raffa said. It's easy to start out as a consultancy, "but you need to aggregate volume solutions to be an interesting [VC] investment."

Lanfear said there is roughly $1.9 billion in sales each year for embedded tools, with one subset of that, mobile applications, growing at a 35-percent compound annual growth rate. Still, code bloat is worsening. The amount of code written per project soared 46 percent annually between 1980-2005, Lanfear said. The number of developers hired to write that code has risen only 7.5 percent annually, he added.

That's one key reason projects are suffering. Lanfear said his recent survey found that more than a third of all embedded projects are late and nearly 13 percent are canceled. Complexity, specification changes and unrealistic schedules are most often sited as reasons for the delays.

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