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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.

Industrial Internet Consortium
Announced in March, the Industrial Internet Consortium was founded by Intel, Cisco, AT&T, GE, and IBM with the goal of developing standards specifically for industrial use of the Internet of Things.

The IIC has yet to release any specifications, but a blog post published on June 30th announced Microsoft's addition to the group and detailed the growing interest in the consortium since its launch in March.

Earl Perkins, a research vice president at Gartner's Security and Privacy team, questioned whether the IIC was equipped to actually address the issues in the industrial use of the Internet of Things. In a post on his Gartner blog, he pointed out what many in the IoT market already know - the industrial world was using connected devices long before anyone was talking about the Internet of Things on social media. The formation of the IIC at a time when the Internet of Things had reached buzzword status was convenient, Perkins wrote.

What remains to be seen is whether the IIC was an attempt to increase awareness on this often overlooked IoT market, or if it will actually contribute to it.

"But my concern is for any consortium, no matter how big or how prestigious, trying to bite off literally more than it can chew," Perkins wrote. "The only 'real' industrial partner in the consortium at this point is GE (and arguably perhaps AT&T). The rest are decidedly IT-centric, so the desire to make the [Industrial Internet of Things] more 'inclusive' is understandable. But there is plenty of opportunity on the industrial side without trying to make more of it than necessary."

Apple? Android?
Amid the confusion, rumors have emerged claiming that the smartphone market's two most dominant factions may turn their attention toward the IoT market.

The New York Times's Bits blog post discussing on the OIC mentioned that "it appears that both Google and Apple, and possibly other companies, are out to create their own standards for the IoT as well," as both companies have recently touted their mobile operating systems' new features for controlling smart home appliances and fitness devices.

Google, of course, is less likely to reshape Android as an IoT system now that its Nest unit is heading up Thread. However, Android is likely to integrate with Thread in some way. It will be interesting to see how Android's massive market share affects Thread's adoption among developers and manufacturers.

Apple, meanwhile, is famously tightlipped about any new market it may enter. If nothing else, Apple will see even more rumors, and Apple could always use more of those.


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