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Intel and Qualcomm Join Forces To Create Single Open IoT Standard

Mike Wolf

Back in December when the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC) announced they would subsume UPnP, one of the industry's more mature and longstanding connected home discovery protocols, I wrote that it was a sign the industry recognized they had a fragmentation problem and had decided to do something about it.

From the piece

"...this move, and the work that's been going on behind the scenes, suggests that the industry recognizes the issue of fragmentation as a real one and that they're making moves to possibly address this. It will be interesting to watch what happens in 2016 to consolidate the industry around common data models and protocol stacks, but I expect to see more of this and hopefully we'll see more breakthroughs to help push the industry forward."

And while I predicted that this was the first of what would eventually be more steps towards a less fragmented market, what I didn't expect was the type of bombshell we got yesterday: Intel, Qualcomm and  others like Microsoft announced they are are joining together to start a new organization called the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) and that they will use the IoTivity standard as the primary standard for IoT communications.

This is a really big deal. What the OCF is, in short, is Intel and Qualcomm coming together and saying they believe a single, unified open communication standard is better for everyone. And as Stacey points out, while Qualcomm wrote they will continue to support Allseen/Alljoyn, make no mistake: this new organization means Alljoyn is basically dead.

As my old coworker from In-Stat, Kevin Krewell, put it, Intel and Qualcomm buried the hatchet, and the hatchet is buried in Allseen. 

In retrospect, it seemed like the OIC and IoTivity certainly had more energy and momentum on its side in recent months. Samsung talked IoTivity up at CES. OIC had acquired UPnP. Things seemed to be moving. Alljoyn, on the other hand, had a quiet CES, and when I went to speak at the Allseen Alliance's annual meeting last fall in Seattle, it felt like the whole thing was a half-hearted affair. Attendance seemed light. There was no energy.

Looking beyond Intel/Qualcomm, what's most interesting about this news is who is not a member of OCF, most notably Google and Apple.  As we know, these two are taking their traditional approach to new markets and applying it to smart home and IoT by creating walled garden ecosystems: Google with Weave, Apple with HomeKit. However, while I don't expect to see either joining OCF anytime soon, I have to wonder if at some point even these two companies will recognize that a unified open standard is a good thing and at some point integrate IoTivity compatibility into their own frameworks.

One last point: it looks like IoTivity is now the preferred IoT framework for the cable industry. With Arris, one of the biggest cable infrastructure manufacturers in the world, and CableLabs, the Cable industry standards body, both sitting on the board of directors, the creation of the OCF essentially marks formal entrance of the cable industry into the IoT framework conversation.  Cable providers are already playing significant roles in the managed smart home market, so it makes sense that they'd start to place some bets in terms of standards.

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  • Tyler on

    Google’s Weave isn’t exactly a “walled garden” in the way Apple’s HomeKit is. The Weave protocol is completely open, and Brillo is open source that can run on basically any hardware.

    Contrast that to HomeKit, which actually requires that you install one of Apple’s chips in your own hardware just to be part of the “garden”. That is a terrible move, evidenced by Philips Hue forcing their customers to buy a whole new $60 bridge with Apple’s chip in it just so they could use it with their Apple devices.

  • Shrix on

    IoT is going through a similar grind which home networking standards had gone through earlier, and UPnP came out as the unique savior. This had to happen in IoT too, and good that the industry aligned rather a bit quickly.

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