The announcement by Intel, Dell, Samsung and others of another consortium aimed at creating an open standard for the Internet of things could add to the fragmentation in a burgeoning market where interoperability will play an increasingly important role.
It also could illustrate the high level of competition among chip makers as they look to position their silicon in a part of the industry where analysts and vendors are expecting tens of billions of new devices and systems to connect to the Internet and each other. The potential for tech vendors that gain a lot of traction in the Internet of things (IoT) is huge. Cisco Systems officials have said that there will be 50 billion connected devices by 2020, and IDC analysts have said IoT revenues worldwide could hit $7.1 trillion by that year.
The companies on July 8 announced the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC), with the aim of creating an industry-standard specification that will help drive interoperability and define connectivity requirements in the billions of systems that will make up the IoT. The spec will enable the devices to communicate regardless of what they are—whether a tablet or a car or a home appliance—what operating system they're running or what wireless service they're running on.
"The rise and ultimate success of the Internet of things depends on the ability for devices and systems to securely and reliably interconnect and share information," Doug Fisher, corporate vice president and general manager of Intel's Software and Services Group, said in a statement. "This requires common frameworks, based on truly open, industry standards."
Jong-deok Choi, executive vice president and deputy head of Samsung's Software R&D Center, agreed.
"In the Internet of things era, everything—from PCs, smartphones and tablets to home and industrial appliances and new wearable form factors—should effortlessly connect and communicate with each other, regardless of who makes the device," Choi said in a statement.
Joining Intel, Dell and Samsung in forming the consortium were chip makers Atmel and Broadcom and software maker Wind River, a subsidiary of Intel. Officials reportedly said they expect the first version of the spec will be released later this year, with devices support the standard hitting the market in 2015.
The new group finds itself some seven months behind the AllSeen Alliance, which was formed in December 2013 and boast more than 50 members, including such top-tier tech vendors as Qualcomm, Cisco, Panasonic, LG Electronics, HTC, Symantec, and—most recently—Microsoft. It also boasts companies from a range of verticals, such as automotive.
The alliance is a project of the Linux Foundation and is creating an open framework for the IoT based on the AllJoyn open-source code originally developed by Qualcomm. The group earlier this month announced the latest beta version of AllJoyn, Version 14.06, which proponents said offers enhancements that improve security and performance through the use of elliptic curve cryptography and features that simplify machine-to-machine interactions, reduce power use and optimize publish/subscribe use cases, such as sensors.
Liat Ben-Zur, who chairs the AllSeen Alliance, told eWEEK that the new group affirms AllSeen's belief in the need for broad interoperability between the various connected devices and systems and that the "Internet of things need to have one … standard that spans across all of these. In today's world, lines are blurry. The same services I use in my home are the same services I use in my car."
However, there's a danger in having too many specs, she said.
"At the end of the day, fragmentation only hurts all of us," Ben-Zur said, adding that she is hoping that the two groups can work together to ensure such fragmentation doesn't occur.