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A guide to the confusing Internet of Things standards world

Colin Neagle | July 22, 2014
Several different IoT standards are currently competing with each other, and more may be joining the contest soon.

"While the typical trouble with standards has been well-documented, AllSeen might have more of a chance than most," The Verge's Sean Hollister wrote in December. "Since its main task of negotiating connections is device, OS, and network agnostic, it shouldn't necessarily become obsolete when newer technologies come along."

Open Interconnect Consortium

Less than a week before Nest announced Thread, Intel announced its Open Interconnect Consortium, boasting Atmel, Dell, Broadcom, Samsung, and Wind River as members and speaking simultaneously of competition with Qualcomm and collaboration with the open source community.

The press release announcing the formation of the OIC quoted Jim Zemlin, executive director of The Linux Foundation, which is also a founding member of the AllSeen Alliance.

"Open source is about collaboration and about choice. The Open Interconnect Consortium is yet another proof point how open source helps to fuel innovation," Zemlin said. "We look forward to the OIC's contribution in fostering an open environment to support the billions of connected devices coming online."

At the same time, several members of the OIC spoke anonymously to The New York Times' Bits blog about a general sense of distrust surrounding Qualcomm's intentions with AllJoyn. And Imad N. Sousou, general manager of Intel's open-source technology center, told Bits that no other effort, the AllSeen Alliance included, fit what the OIC member companies saw as the appropriate plan for IoT standards.

"Intel and its partners evaluated all of the existing work," Mr. Sousou said. "It's not being done in a way that will drive widespread adoption."

Even while The Linux Foundation praised the OIC, Qualcomm senior vice president Rob Chandhok publicly denounced its member companies for failing to collaborate on the AllJoyn standard instead.

"We had a public post saying we wouldn't make a profit from AllJoyn," he said. "Part of my puzzlement here is that if they've got a problem, they should come to the party and fix it."

The OIC is still in its very early stages, but so far the only differences between its effort and the AllSeen Alliance is the rejection of Qualcomm, or any major for-profit vendor, as the creator of an allegedly open-sourced protocol. Gary Martz, a product line manager at Intel, told Gigaom that the key difference is that the protocol would be created as part of a collaborative process between all of the members. Qualcomm, on the other hand, created AllJoyn years before handing it over to the AllSeen Alliance, and still remains a presence in its dealings.

The July announcement of the OIC, months before it will release the first of its specifications, reflects that sentiment. It seems the member companies just wanted the world to know that a collaborative effort was underway, without the influence of Qualcomm.


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