Chipmakers gang up on Qualcomm in new IoT alliance

10 Jul 2014

ITEM: Several major chipset firms have banded together to form an alliance that will be focused on improving interoperability and defining the connectivity requirements for the billions of devices that will make up the Internet of Things (IoT).

On Tuesday, Atmel, Broadcom, Dell, Intel, Samsung Electronics, and Wind River announced the formation of the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC), an industry consortium that aims to define a common communications framework to wirelessly connect and intelligently manage the flow of information among computing and emerging IoT devices.

From the press release:

Member companies will contribute software and engineering resources to the development of a protocol specification, open source implementation, and a certification program, all with a view of accelerating the development of the IoT. The OIC specification will encompass a range of connectivity solutions, utilizing existing and emerging wireless standards and will be designed to be compatible with a variety of operating systems.

If any of that sounds familiar, that’s because there’s already an industry alliance with a very similar sounding mission statement. The AllSeen Alliance – which counts Haier, LG Electronics, Panasonic, Qualcomm and Sharp among its big-name members – formed in December last year to develop a common, open framework for IoT devices based on the AllJoyn open source project – originally developed by Qualcomm Innovation Center – that addresses basic requirements like discovery, pairing, message routing and security.

But not everyone thinks that AllJoyn counts as “true” open-source (due to its origins at Qualcomm), and the OIC appears to be an attempt by Qualcomm’s chipset rivals to develop an alternative solution to IoT interoperability, writes Caroline Gabriel at Rethink Wireless:

The OIC is short on details of its approach so far, though it will publish its code later this quarter, but its announcements suggest it will be a rival to AllJoyn in using the weight of its big-name backers to establish a de facto standard. It says it will devise, and contribute to open source, a peer-to-peer protocol which handles device discovery and authentication. However, Intel says the key difference from AllJoyn is that the OIC code will be created collaboratively, rather than forming a supporters' club around an existing technology from a single firm.

Or, as Imad N. Sousou, general manager of Intel’s open-source technology center, told the New York Times:

“Intel and its partners evaluated all of the existing work [at AllSeen],” Mr. Sousou said. “It’s not being done in a way that will drive widespread adoption.”

According to people in the consortium, who asked not to be named in order to sustain relations with AllSeen members, many of the other chip companies did not trust Qualcomm to fully part with its intellectual property.

Not unexpectedly, Qualcomm SVP Rob Chandhok, one of the creators of AllJoyn, told the NYT that such concerns were “nonsense”, and that if they think AllJoyn has problems, “they should come to the party and fix it.”

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