The changing industry structure of software development for consumer electronics and its consequences for software architectures
Journal article, 2012
During the last decade the structure of the consumer electronics industry has been changing profoundly. Current consumer electronics products are built using components from a large variety of specialized firms, whereas previously each product was developed by a single, vertically integrated company. Taking a software development perspective, we analyze the transition in the consumer electronics industry using case studies from digital televisions and mobile phones. We introduce a model consisting of five industry structure types and describe the forces that govern the transition between types and we describe the consequences for software architectures. We conclude that, at this point in time, software supply chains are the dominant industry structure for developing consumer electronics products. This is because the modularization of the architecture is limited, due to the lack of industry-wide standards and because resource constrained devices require variants of supplied software that are optimized for different hardware configurations. Due to these characteristics open ecosystems have not been widely adopted. The model and forces can serve the decision making process for individual companies that consider the transition to a different type of industry structure as well as provide a framework for researchers studying the software-intensive industries.
Software supply chains