I predict the future of embedded Linux

Fri 06 May 2011

I've been reading the excellent Future Babble by Dan Gardner.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it confirms that we're all wired as complete idiots when it comes to looking into the future.

The science shows that the more confidently someone makes a prediction, the more likely they're talking utter balls. But sadly, it also shows that the greater the bullshit confidence, the more likely folks will believe it. To compound the error, we fasten onto the hits but conveniently forget the misses. I knew I should have been a bookmaker fortune-teller politician pundit strategist.

Which brings me to a little dilemma. I suddenly feel the need to pretend I can predict estimate how many embedded linux devices will ship over the next few years. This is pretty tough given that no-one even knows with much accuracy how many are shipping today - one of the weaknesses benefits of open source is you can steal it and nobody needs to know use it in devices without admitting it.

So I've been rolling dice putting together a detailed financial model, and I'm 100% crazy confident to publish the following:

  • linux in vehicles to exceed 200M instances per year by 2016
  • linux in toys & games to exceed 1BN per year by 2016
  • linux in sensors & security to exceed 1.25BN per year by 2016

I've got loads more guesswork detailed projections which I'll be happy to share over a pint charge a fortune for.

But the trouble is... the biggest number I can come up with in my wildest dreams is 5BN new instances per year across all markets by 2016.

At MeeGoConf last month Jim Zemlin suggested we're heading for a TRILLION in total sometime soon...

what gives?