“R&D takes time to be fruitful, so we preserve our R&D investment even in the more difficult of times”

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Q. Out of the various sectors, what are the top three sectors in which growth is targeted?
A. First is RF. One emphasis I want to put on RF is that, people often associate it with wireless test of the device like this. We do serve that application of wireless device testing, but the reason that we put a big investment in RF, in the opportunity we see there is because we see that as a broader application than just hands-on test. Wireless has become this ubiquitous technology, we believed that was going to be the case 10 years ago when we started down this path, we envisioned it as a core component of everything. And so for us, RF means not just wireless devices, but also radar, military & intelligence applications, infrastructure applications and so forth. RF is a growth opportunity.

When we talk about embedded which is the second area, what we really need about that business is the value we deliver to customers, a faster time-to-market. Thus it naturally goes into areas where there is an incentive to get to market quicker. We’re basically talking about fast moving markets and energy is a big one. Smart grid is really an investment area around the world where they need to move fast and they don’t know exactly what they need yet, so having a flexibility of a platform-based perch really is important. So that’s a key one. There’s also life sciences within that space. Everyone has different ideas on new ways to create new types of medical devices, and there’s a race to get those in the market.

The last one is, there is a lot of opportunities at the intersection of test and embedded. One example is an area called real-time test or hardware-in-the-loop. It’s basically when you’re testing software on an embedded device. The common application is in automotive, you get all the software in your car, and they need a test and verify that the software doesn’t have any bugs before a new model of the car is shipped. So you have to test this technique, we have to emulate the rest of the car in order to test the electronics in the software and these electronic control units. Our platform is well suited to that because it is kind of a blend of measurement and real time control.

Q. What’s the vision for myRIO–any benchamrk set for it to be termed as a successful product?
A. Of course, we have internal targets set for myRIO. One interesting thing about myRIO that maybe the most unknown piece is that it is targeted at academia. We know about the market pretty well, but with myDAQ we can understand the student owned market as well. Therefore we have a pretty good idea about how much success it will achieve in universities. The interesting thing is, that platform can do many other things for other types of embedded design and industry. There is a longer term, hobbyists can use that. It’s the closest thing we have to a hobbyist platform. The question is, can we drive the success of that, drive the cost down and be able to achieve success in those markets. We’re not counting on those for the success of the product, but we’re certainly talking about what things we could do to achieve some other market opportunities with things in pretty compelling products.

Q. Why price the same products at three different levels? Why not make the myDAQ the Raspberry Pi of NI? Is there an investor concern or…?
A. No. Obviously we have to build a successful business so that we can invest back into these platforms. The student-owned area can work for us and help us in other things. We have a notion of how we can sell a device to students and institutions and in a blended version of that we can do all of that and have a profitable product area. To broadly sell at that student price to anyone in the world, we don’t really have a model at this point to do that to support it properly because the hobbyist market has not been our core business. We may have a few enthusiastic users that buy our stuff, our biggest touch point in that marketplace is actually Lego Mindstorms, but we don’t support this. We’re supplier to Lego which sells into that market. So that’s our biggest penetration into that market.

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