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Embedded developers prefer Linux, love Android

Mar 2, 2013 — by Rick Lehrbaum 8,661 views

Developers plan to use Linux in half of their upcoming embedded projects, according to preliminary data from an annual EE Times embedded market survey. And Android leads the Linux pack.

The data from EE Times’s “2013 Embedded Market Study” were disclosed to embedded market executives by UBM Tech vice president David Blaza and EE Times editor-in-chief Alex Wolfe at Embedded World in Nuremburg last week.

Blaza and Wolfe said Android was the OS of choice for future embedded projects among 16 percent of the survey’s participants, placing it ahead of all other OSes other than “in-house/custom” (see chart below).


Embedded OS developer preferences, February 2013
(click to enlarge; source: EE Times “2013 Embedded Market Study”)

In-house top choice. Really?

According to EE Times, the “in-house/custom” option remained embedded developers’ top choice, at 28 percent, an increase from last year’s 24 percent.

But if a spectrum of disparate approaches can be lumped together as a single option, why not aggregate of the various shades of Linux to see how they compare?

Will the real survey winner please stand up

To better understand Linux’s share of the embedded market we sliced and diced the Linux variants’ percentages using the EE Times study’s data. The results are tabulated below.

2013 Embedded Market Study Linux percentages

  2013 2012
Android 16% 13%
Ubuntu 13% 12%
Debian 8% 8%
Red Hat 5% 5%
Wind River 4% 4%
Angstrom 4% 4%


As indicated by the table, “Linux” is expected to be used in 50 percent of upcoming embedded projects, an increase from last year’s 46 percent. Parsing the EE Times data this way makes it abundantly clear that Linux truly dominates the embedded market.

EE Times collected its survey data from 2,000 respondents, mostly located in North America and Europe, between Jan. 17 and Feb. 13, 2013. The full EE TImes “Embedded Market Study 2013” officially launches next month at the big DesignWest conference in San Jose, CA, the publication said. An article about the preliminary study results (on which this post is based) can be found here.

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5 responses to “Embedded developers prefer Linux, love Android”

  1. Ron says:

    That doesn’t even consider the South Koreans, Japanese and Chinese.

  2. Russell says:

    The analysis needs a little more care. The total of all entries for 2013 comes out to 156%, not just 100%, so apparently there is overlap in the entries.

    A naive rescaling would put Linux at about 33% of the total, which is still larger than the other options, just not 50%.

    • albert says:

      Agreed. There would be overlap if one vendor uses more than one OS in its products. I’ve responded to surveys before. A lot depends on how the questions are posed, and how much time one has to complete them, and how much information is known to the respondent. The ‘inhouse/custom’ numbers are interesting. I know a lot of Linux users who don’t like the GPL for their proprietary code, but are able to mix it with the Linux kernel. The issue is more complex than the survey could possibly reflect.

    • LinuxGizmos says:

      I’ve asked EE Times for clarification on how the percentages were obtained and should have more info tomorrow afternoon.

  3. albert says:


    A forum with polite, informed discussion.

    What alternate universe am I in?

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