Microsoft said today that it will join the AllSeen Alliance, a consortium of tech companies led by Qualcomm and dedicated to creating technology for the so-called "Internet of Things" (IoT). With the addition of Microsoft, the Alliance now counts 51 companies as members, including Cisco, Haier, LG, Panasonic, Sharp, Silicon Image, and Technicolor.
The announcement was made Tuesday through Microsoft's official blog, in a post written by the company's General Manager for IoT, Kevin Dallas. “We believe the promise of IoT lies in making new and existing devices smarter by connecting them to services in the cloud,” Dallas wrote in his post.
Open Source Alliance
The Internet of Things refers to the growing effort to connect and integrate data from a broad range of devices and services in order to share and use data more effectively. The Alliance was created in December 2013 to address interoperability challenges of using devices from a variety of manufacturers, with different operating
systems all trying to work in concert.
AllSeen is working to develop a common open source framework to enable devices to discover, pair, and route messages to adjacent devices, according to its Web site. The framework is based on the AllJoyn open source code that was originally developed by Qualcomm. Qualcomm gave the code to the Linux Foundation, which in turn launched the Alliance.
The McKinsey Global Institute estimated that the Internet of Things has the potential to create an economic impact of $2.7 trillion to $6.2 trillion annually by 2025, according to AllSeen’s statement announcing Microsoft’s participation.
“In order for us to collectively realize the full potential of IoT, it’s imperative we have the right conversations as a community to enable these new and emerging devices and cloud services to be able to communicate and interact properly,” Dallas wrote.
Battle Lines Forming
AllSeen isn’t the only group looking to develop a standard for IoT. According to a Reuters report, Qualcomm competitors plan to launch their own alternatives to the AllJoyn standard in upcoming weeks.
In June, Apple introduced its own solution called HomeKit, which it is developing as a framework to allow communication between home appliances.
Meanwhile, Google announced last week that it has partnered with Mercedes-Benz and Whirlpool to allow their products to work with Google’s Nest platform. Google acquired Nest Labs, a thermostat and smoke detector manufacturer, for $3.2 billion earlier this year.
Joining AllSeen wasn’t the only move Microsoft made Tuesday. Microsoft also announced plans to join the Industrial Internet Consortium, a partnership between AT&T, Cisco, GE and IBM that is also dedicated to developing common standards for interoperability across a range of devices.
Dallas compared the current state of IoT technology with the early days of the Internet, arguing in favor of the benefits provided by broadly accepted standards. He challenges readers to imagine if the HTTP protocol was not a standard adopted by everyone. "Would the Web have been as impactful in creating the global connectivity and business opportunities that have defined the past two decades?”