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GE Partners With SoftBank in First Predix Licensing Deal

The machines are talking, and the conversation is getting bigger and more complex. That’s why last October, GE said it would open to developers its new software platform for the Industrial Internet, called Predix. Today, the Japanese telecom giant and the country’s third largest mobile carrier, SoftBank Telecom, said it would take a license to build Predix apps for shipping, manufacturing and other industries.

SoftBank says there is a $12 billion data analytics market in Japan that can benefit from the apps. A revenue sharing agreement between the partners has the potential to yield $200 million over the next five years in Japan alone.

GE has spent more that $1 billion to launch its global software center in San Ramon, Calif. The company estimates that the convergence of machines, data and analytics will become a $200 billion global industry over the next three years.

GE, its customers, and partners like SoftBank will use Predix to capture a share of that market. “It’s more than just cool new technology,” says Bill Ruh, vice president of GE Global Software. “It’s a foundational platform for building the technology infrastructure of tomorrow. Imagine a world in which there is no unplanned downtime, a world in which you know with reasonable certainty when critical parts of a machine will fail, and you can replace those parts before they fail.”

GE believes that the Industrial Internet could add $10 to $15 trillion to global GDP in efficiency gains over the next two decades. That’s the about the current size of the U.S. economy.

Ruh says that Predix quickens the spread of the Industrial Internet, a digital network connecting, collecting and analyzing data from billions of sensors installed in locomotives, jet engines, blowout preventers and other intelligent machines. He says the software platform provides a stable environment for writing apps for these machine-to-machine networks, standardizes big data software development, and accelerates the “time to value” cycle. “Predix will allow SoftBank to write its own Industrial Internet applications,” Ruh says. “It will spare them the expense of reinventing the wheel.”

GE, which is already using Predix apps to monitor aircraft, power plants and railroads, expects to earn $1 billion in revenue from the platform this year. “A software platform becomes more powerful the more people use it,” says Dave Barlett, chief technology officer of GE Aviation. “GE will continue using it, but making it available externally will also allow our customers and business partners to write their own software and become more successful. We want Predix to become the Android or iOS of the machine world. We want it to become the language of the Industrial Internet.”

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