Anticipating a rebound in some segments of the wireless communications industry as users get interested in new technology, Indian vendors are rolling out wireless software and products targeted at these segments.
India has emerged as a key location for multinational companies wanting to license wireless software. Taking advantage of the availability of low cost and skilled manpower for software development in the country, Indian companies develop wireless software and products that they license to multinational wireless equipment and semiconductor vendors.
This week, Bangalore-based Bluetooth solutions vendor Impulsesoft Private Ltd. announced the release of reference designs for a wireless stereo headset, and a plug-in device that enables current audio systems to transmit wirelessly stereo-quality audio to other wireless devices like stereo headsets.
"Compared to last year, we are seeing much improved traction in the Bluetooth space," said Baskar Subramaniam, Impulsesoft's chief technology officer. "The customer leads are coming from terminal makers, contract manufacturers, original equipment manufacturers and service providers. Customers are seeking newer applications, particularly in the consumer electronics and automotive space."
The two new product launches this week are expected to translate into revenue in the next two quarters, he added. Although it started as a vendor of plain-vanilla Bluetooth protocol stacks, Impulsesoft this year moved into products built around the software stacks.
Sasken Communication Technologies Ltd., a Bangalore-based provider of embedded wireless software also announced this week that it would provide a MMS (Multimedia Messaging Services) client and other mobile multimedia applications, optimized for the PCA (Personal Internet Client Architecture) platform from Intel Corp. in Santa Clara. Sasken's MMS client is designed to enable handset makers to add video capabilities when the market opportunity arises, according to Pranabh Mody, head of the terminal device solutions business division at Sasken.
"Most of the MMS clients available in the market today are not designed with scalability in mind," added Mody. "They begin and end with sending pictures combined with some text. In most cases, the architecture does not permit addition of codecs, say video codecs, at a later stage."
Wipro Technologies, a division of Bangalore-based Wipro Ltd., has also introduced protocol stacks and other technology for the 802.11 wireless LAN (local area network) markets.
A number of market research firms have forecast a rebound in certain segments of the wireless equipment markets. Shipments of wireless handsets are projected to increase from 391 million in 2002 to 606 million in 2006, a compound annual growth rate of 9.5 percent, according to IDC in Framingham, Massachusetts. Demand for wireless services infrastructure will also go up, according to Forward Concepts Co. Although worldwide cellular subscribers will grow at a 13.6 percent rate, from 1.1 billion in 2002 to 2.0 billion subscribers in 2006, infrastructure capacity demand will grow at an estimated 35 percent compound rate as a result of both increasing air time and greater bandwidth use by wireless subscribers, according to the Tempe, Arizona-based research firm.
After a slump, Sasken too is finding business picking up. "The main demand in wireless telecommunications is coming in multimedia solutions, and we are well placed as we have been developing solutions in wireless multimedia such as around the MPEG (Moving Pictures Experts Group) standard for the last seven years," said Mody.
That the business is likely to pick up for Indian wireless software and product companies is also evident from recent deals with multinational companies. Royal Philips Electronics NV of the Netherlands last month announced a partnership with Sasken to offer 2.5G and 3G terminal manufacturers a combination of Sasken software and Philip's Nexperia multimedia semiconductor baseband.
Indian companies are making headway in the telecom market. Intel has for instance licensed from Sasken a W-CDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) protocol stack. Sasken is also working with Benq Corp. in Taipei on GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) modems, and Datang Mobile Communications Equipment Co. Ltd. in Beijing for a TD-SCDMA (Time Division - Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access) software module. Impulsesoft's customers for its Bluetooth products include consumer products company, Kanebo Ltd. in Tokyo, and semiconductor makers such as Irvine, California-based Broadcom Corp. and Infineon Technologies AG in Munich. Semiconductor makers find it easier to sell their silicon if it is bundled with these solutions.