An interview with Stefan Skarin, CEO of IAR Systems, on the acquisition of Signum Systems Corp.
MCU Designline: Today, IAR Systems has announced the acquisition of Signum Systems, a leading supplier of embedded hardware tools based in California. Why would a specialist for embedded software development tools buy a US hardware company? Stefan Skarin: IAR Systems is known for offering its customers a comprehensive portfolio of advanced development and debugging tools for designing state-of-the-art embedded software. Still we see – influenced both by our customers and clear markets trends – the need to own a broader technology. In order to better serve our customers we were looking for a hardware company which contributes to our offering while keeping up our high quality product and service standards. We feel that Signum with its high competence, good technical support and world-class technologies is the perfect match for us. Now we possess one of the market´s broadest offerings of development tools for the embedded industry.
MCU Designline: What are the customers’ demands and market trends you mentioned? Skarin: First of all, we see that application complexity is increasing, so our development tools are accompanying that trend. Furthermore our customers seek for ways to cut down their development time while raising their flexibility in MCU choice. Standardization on one development environment is a solution to that and we have more and more customers which are standardizing on IAR Systems’ tool suite. By evolving our offering into a seamless software and hardware integration for high-end solutions, we offer our customers strong comprehensive support to address a major market opportunity.
MCU Designline: So which are the products of Signum that actually contribute to your portfolio? Skarin: It’s mainly their hardware products; Signum offers JTAGJet, as series of fully featured JTAG-based emulators, in-circuit emulators and debuggers like the Chameleon Debugger for developing microcontrollers, microprocessors, and DSP-based systems. We especially appreciate Signum’s broad support for devices which include all ARM processor architectures. This contributes to our commitment to provide customers with reliable and powerful development tools especially for current and future ARM processors.
MCU Designline: But didn’t your product offering already include hardware like debug probes? Skarin: This is correct. Every year we sell thousands of units of IAR J-Link and IAR J-Trace, our popular hardware debug probes. The JTAG emulators from Signum are consequently complementing our existing portfolio here.
MCU Designline: Another option would have been to seek a closer cooperation with Signum. Why is it so important to own the technology? Skarin: Only by gaining ownership of a product you can fully commit yourself to its potential. We see a great potential in Signum’s products as they ideally complement our current offering and contribute to our future roadmap. And the best way to make sure to get a return of these untapped market potentials is to actually own the technology.
MCU Designline: So how does this acquisition affect your short and long-term offering? Skarin: On the short run, this will not affect our product offering. It is too early to comment on our future roadmap, but we are in the process to complete details and timing and will make these available as soon as possible. However we are immediately starting to work together with customers and partners to get a good understanding in the market.
MCU Designline: What are the benefits for the customers of Signum and IAR Systems? Skarin: All of our customers will benefit from continued development of the technology existing in both product portfolios. In a long term perspective, they will of course also profit by the fact that the leading technology from both vendors will be working under the same roof.
MCU Designline: What will happen with Signum as a company? Skarin: Signum will continue to exist as a part of our US operations. The brands of Signum like the JTAGJet and the Cameleon Debugger will remain the same within IAR Systems. MCU Designline: And what does this mean to Signum or IAR Systems distributors? Skarin: IAR Systems as well as Signum are working with a channel strategy for territories where we are not present. This will still be the case, but there may of course be changes when it comes to specific markets or countries.
MCU Designline: So what’s next on your agenda? Skarin: The next few months we will be spending with the global launch of the acquisition through a series of marketing events in US, EMEA and APAC. We will focus our activities around ESC at Boston in September, ARM Techcon (Santa Clara) and Embedded Masterclass (UK) in October, Embedded Technology (Tokyo) in November and Embedded Software Engineering Congress (Germany) in December.
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