There's a new Internet of Things group today – the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF), but it's designed to unify the industry, not add to the fragmentation, and instead of pitting Intel and Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) against one another, they're joining forces.
Besides the two chipset suppliers, the effort involves Arris, CableLabs, Cisco, Electrolux, GE Digital, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Samsung, all coming together to unify the former Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC) with leaders at all levels – silicon, software, platform and finished goods.
OIC, backed by Intel, was formed in 2014 after the AllSeen Alliance in part because it wanted to address IoT from a different angle and under a different IPR policy. But its founders apparently have decided the bigger picture is too big an opportunity to let those kinds of things hold it back.
"I am thrilled we are taking this important step, with the organizations recognizing the challenge is too important to continue down different paths. Working separately, we would have spent valuable time building consensus—now, we can go forward much faster," said Imad Sousou, vice president in the Software and Services Group at Intel and general manager of the Intel Open Source Technology Center, in a blog post.
Sousous said the OCF is the only organization comprised of technology suppliers at all levels (product, software, platform and silicon) dedicated to providing this key element of an IoT solution. "By allowing providers to build on a single, open standard, OCF will drive secure interoperability for consumers, business, and industry, which is key to unlocking the massive opportunity, accelerating industry innovation, speeding product development and spurring adoption," he said.
In a separate blog post titled "Fragmentation is the enemy of the Internet of Things," Qualcomm said it remains a member of the AllSeen Alliance and in that capacity, it is working with both organizations to help establish a single open standard for IoT. "And when this happens, those of us who believe in an open, robust IoT standard for connectivity and interaction among products and services, will have gone beyond saying we believe in it—we will have accomplished it."
Industry leaders in and outside of the myriad IoT standards-based groups and associations have for a long time recognized that too many solutions are vying to tie together the massive IoT. Back in 2014, AT&T Senior Vice President of the Emerging Devices division Chris Penrose told FierceWireless that eventually, the different standards groups would need to come together or the industry will need to pick winner. "There's lots of good standards, but ultimately one will begin to emerge," he said at the time. "Right now we're still in the shake-out period."
Some of the shake-out is happening now as the OIC, whose website now redirects to the Open Connectivity Foundation, is no longer. The new OCF intends to create a set of open specifications and protocols to enable devices from a variety of manufactures to securely and seamlessly interact with one another. Regardless of the manufacturer, operating system, chipset or transport – devices that adhere to the OCF specifications will simply work together, the group says.
Microsoft says that Windows 10 devices will natively interoperate with the new OCF standard, making it easy for Windows to discover, communicate and orchestrate multiple IoT devices in the home, in business and beyond. The OCF standards also will be fully compatible with the 200 million Windows 10 devices that are "designed for AllSeen" today.
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