We are living in the "Age of Mobility" as seen by exponential growth in smart Internet devices such as the iPhone/iPad/Android/Tablets. These devices are powered by high-end electronic circuitry equivalent to desktop or laptop systems from just a few years ago; however, these devices are driven by multiple layers of software applications more complex in nature than just a normal operating system interface. To reduce manufacturing costs, manufacturers are looking at various ways to reduce complexity and leverage existing hardware. One trend is System on Chip (SoC) where major semiconductor companies are looking to integrate and package all of the electronic components into one single component and allowing software to control various aspects of the functionality on the chip.
As demand increases for more features and functionality, manufacturers are filling the need by developing complex software applications to manage and scale as new capabilities are introduced into the system. As with all software development, new capabilities mean an increase in complexity. Hence, many manufacturers differentiate from their products through innovation of their software instead of the hardware.
One process for managing software complexity is through the usage of a standardized software package, such as Android, the popular embedded mobile framework. As the industry trends to more prepackaged, standardized applications, software licensing is one critical area that should also be addressed in the ongoing evolution of mobility based applications and the device's respective capabilities.
By standardizing on a common licensing platform, manufacturers are able to:
- Monitor software usage and determine market demands
- Monetize software features without having to create additional device model/family
- Manage field, upgrade, and license activation that is consistent across all devices
- Adapt and respond to customer demographic profile without burden of additional hardware
Standardization in software licensing helps to establish customer expectations both present and future. Software licensing enables manufacturers to integrate and scale new capabilities so that they are able to meet market demand on time. As more capabilities are introduced, software licensing can assist manufacturers to reduce via a Java cliché – "build once, monetize many" –without requiring smart device manufacturers to build derivative device types to support different features and/or capabilities.