Embedded computers

Embedded computers are incorporated into other devices, rather than being stand alone computers. Examples include digital cameras, mobile phones, music players, specialist IT hardware (such as networking hardware), and almost any kind of industrial or domestic control system.

As a result of the increasing use of embedded computers in consumer electronics is blurring the boundary between the markets. This is one reason why computer companies like Apple (with its Ipod) are increasingly moving into consumer electronics.

Embedded computers are being incorporated into many devices that did not previously require it. Consider the changes that have taken place in automotive electronics: not only are embedded computers being incorporated into very visible devices such as navigation systems, they are also being used to affect the fundamental functioning of cars in devices such as braking systems.

All these devices, from phones to cars, that contain embedded computers create opportunities for the supply of both hardware and software. Although much of the hardware and software is specialised for embedded use, much is also common to both computers and embedded computers. Good examples of the latter are the Linux and Java which run on everything from mainframes to mobile phones.

This means that demand for embedded computers of various types have further repercussions on demand for everything from semiconductors to software to services.