At VIA Embedded we are experimenting with a number of ARM devices and use cases. We made developer boards and systems based on our own VIA SoCs of two separate lineage, as well as Freescale's chips. This makes us more experienced, but also leaves our efforts more fragmented and requires us to connect with multiple ecosystems. This latter is not too simple, since there are always a shortage of resources, both for making contact with other companies and potential partners, and then to support that effort.
When I heard that Freescale is doing an open community event for "Designing with Freescale" right here in Taiwan, I grabbed the opportunity to meet others in similar shoes.
The event had three parts: two presentation tracks (one mostly on hardware, other mostly on software), and a showcasing area where Freescale partners were showing off their products and offerings. The presentations were all in Chinese (though the slides in English) and unfortunately my Chinese is not that great, I just picked up whatever I could along the way. Had a chance to have more in-depth conversation in the showcase area and at the lunch, though, and that was very illuminating.
It was a great opportunity to learn about industry trends, and see how other companies handle their business.
The main codewords were iot and home_automation. The solutions were interesting and developed if I looked at them as an industry insider, though as a customer I feel there's a long way to go. The hardware is well done, but needs better use cases, and maybe a refinement who are the end customers. I'm more and more convinced that the users won't be the end customers but solution providers, infrastructure developers. Personal versions of these devices are evilishly difficult, while infrastructure versions will likely become the norm sooner rather than later.
Was interesting to see how different companies solved things differently. Licensing patterns, customer support patterns were different across the board. Hardware that is very popular in one region has no demand or even a pushback in another. The rationales of choosing different hardware solutions has varied a lot too: whether a team went with the cheapest adequate version of a chip or going for high-end overkill just in case. The buzzwords were different in each geographic/industry region as well, eg. it took a bit of explanation to get across the meaning of Digital Signage for someone who were providing solutions in exact area, just didn't call it Digital signage.
The other thing I've learned is that we (meaning VIA) are definitely not doing enough communication towards other industry partners. Pretty much nobody known at the event that we are doing more than chipsets now (compared to, say, 15 years ago), and that we are in developer boards, digital signage, software development, the full shebang... There are a lot of opportunities for collaboration, but only if people know that you exists...
I wonder what other participants took home from the event, or what's the expectation people have when they are attending such developer get-togethers? Would love to hear your comments!
A more general-public-facing version of the event summary has been posted on the VIA Springboard Blog.