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Microsoft joins Qualcomm's gang in Internet of Stuff standards fight

Tech firms choose sides or go it alone on Web Everywhere interoperability

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Microsoft has joined a standards-setting consortium of 50 companies that is hoping to be instrumental in setting up interoperability for the Internet of Things.

The software giant has signed up to the Allseen Alliance, which also counts companies like Qualcomm, LG, Cisco and Symantec among its members.

The group is trying to establish a universal software framework based on AllJoyn open source code that will allow internet-enabled fridges, thermostats and other devices to talk to each other.

However, the Alliance is not the only one that’s trying to get its own standards to become the norm.

Firms like Google and Apple are trying to go it alone, signing up partner firms that have agreed to work with their own existing tech. Google said last week that Mercedes-Benz, Whirlpool and lightbulb-manufacturer LIFX would be working on integrating their gear with its Nest technology, while Apple has said it’s working on HomeKit, a system for integrated control over devices in the home.

There are also rumours that rival groups are springing up. Reuters reported an industry source as saying that chipmakers that compete with Qualcomm were planning a rival consortium to compete with the Allseen Alliance. And in Blighty, tech firms have come up with their own specification, dubbed HyperCat.

Chipzilla Intel told The Reg in a statement that it hadn’t seen any standards movement worth signing up to yet, but the sector was going to need those standards in the future.

“Today, there are multiple forums driving different approaches to solve the challenge of IoT connectivity. Currently, we don’t see one single effort that addresses all the necessary requirements,” the firm said. “For example, AllSeen has source code, but not a standards-based specification, which limits adoption. We believe that industry consolidation around a common interoperable approach is essential to fuel billions of connected IoT devices.”

Announcing Microsoft coming onboard, the Allseen Alliance said that companies were going to need each other if they hoped to get their mitts on the annual trillions that McKinsey Global Institute has predicted for the industry. The beancounters estimate that the Internet of Things could have an economic impact of $2.7 trillion to $6.2 trillion a year by 2025.

"No single company can accomplish the level of interoperability required to support the Internet of Everything in everyday, real-life scenarios,” said Liat Ben-Zur, the Alliance chairman.

The consortium also told The Reg that it’s the “only one actually developing a universal code to foster IoT adoption”. ®

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