What does GENIVI’s selection of MeeGo mean? If done properly, it means, at the same time, acceleration of MeeGo in Automotive and preservation of GENIVI.
When GENIVI formed, its goal included creating code and specs, which is a unique challenge for alliances where, typically, specs are developed and code is written as much as 10 years later. Look at IEEE, ISO, Bluetooth, AUTOSAR, and others to confirm the typical approach. It’s a long process to gain consensus, but the result is fantastic – products work together and you don’t have to throw them out so quickly.
Launched in 2008 with 8 members, GENIVI has grown to become the “Who’s Who’s” of automotive IVI. Companies joined with the hope of capturing business opportunities created by large, car OEMs: GM, BMW, PSA, Nissan, Renault, and recently Hyundai. On the other hand, contributing anything that might give or lose a competitive advantage is a challenge for most of these commercial companies. Automotive suppliers have not learned how to profit from collaboration the way the computer industry has, and their reliability and durability requirements are still being sold as features, not warranty issues.
Inside GENIVI there are many meetings where silence is more common than outspoken debate. This is quite a contrast to Open Source, where constructive confrontation is encouraged and rewarded through maintainership rights. MeeGo offers to turn this upside down for GENIVI, as code development can flow more freely in the open developer environment, while the automotive specs are brought in by the credentialed GENIVI members. This eliminates 80\% of the problem, since that’s the portion of a Linux automotive solution that will come from outside the alliance, through Open Source. The remaining 20\% will require collaboration, and in the case of proprietary code and specs that are unique to cars, perhaps 5\% of the total code will never be discussed in MeeGo forums.
Graham Smethurst of BMW, and also the GENIVI President put it well, “For GENIVI to be successful, it must become an influential body in both the automotive and consumer spaces.” He added in 2009, “To gain credibility within the open source community, the Alliance must build on the significant open source contributions of some of its members (those are Intel in PC industry, Nokia in mobile devices, ISVs in popular applications). GENIVI must build relationships with established open source organizations (such as The Linux Foundation) and projects (such as MeeGo, then Moblin).”
On the other hand, if not coordinated properly, GENIVI may find itself struggling to replicate the success of Open Source without the compensation many developers are willing to accept, simply being able to make a difference with their investment in time and talent. If conflict occurs with MeeGo, and since GENIVI is purely commercially driven, only a financial ROI will justify investment and GENIVI will be required to cover the entire development process, a task scoped at 100s of millions of dollars, euros, or yen.
This will never work, thus collaboration with MeeGo is the best way to ensure that GENIVI survives in a competitive world of Apple, Android, and the automotive challenge.
Joel Hoffmann, Intel Strategic Market Development Manager, GENIVI Director and Marketing Chair