In the broad area of developing/giving/selling software as-is or as hidden part of some other products (such as cars ot airplanes), what is meant by the term software-intensive industry?

A. Is it some particular industry or industries? If so, which one(s)?

B. Can you have more than one, meaningfully building the plural form "software-intensive industries" (which does occur, but the majority of the authors mentioning this term seem to be not native English speakers), or is it a mass term (such as food, information, although industries is purely grammatically correct)?

C. Is it specific to a geographic region?

A major Web search engine produces around 3300 URLs that speak about it, but to the best of my knowledge, none of the sites listed defines the term properly by saying something like

  1. The software-intensive industry is ...[definition]...


  1. A software-intensive industry is ...[definition]....

That's what I ask for in this question. So, please feel free to complete the phrases 1. or 2. above, accompanied with some explanation and references.

PS. We consider using this term ourselves, but we found out that we don't unambiguously understand it, and lot of folks use it too but noone seems to give an explanation on what they actually mean by that.

EDIT: The earliest usage of the term is found in "CAD is a particularly good example of a software intensive industry", cf. Raphael Kaplinsky, Firm size and technical change in a dynamic context, Journal of Industrial Economics, 32(1) pp. 39–59, 1983, dated 1982-04-15 by G**gle.


The phrasing 'X-intensive Y' is a qualifier of Y. For example: "cardio-intensive workout" refers to an exercise routine that focuses on more aerobic type exercises than it does on strength-training.

A 'software-intensive industry' (plural: "software-intensive industries") would mean an industry where the companies make intensive use of software. For example, accounting is a software intensive because. An accountant that doesn't make use of software would be non-competitive. A counter example would be food services industry. Software is used by these industries but not 'intensively'.

This doesn't imply (to me anyway) that the companies in that industry are actually developing software but they might.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – tchrist Jul 6 '19 at 3:07

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