SAN JOSE, Calif. — Kudos to Qualcomm for rallying into an open-source alliance of 23 backers for its Alljoyn software under the new name of AllSeen. But there's still a lot unseen and yet to be seen about this move.
Billed as unifying glue for Internet of Things products, AllSeen is one of the umpteen standard and proprietary options for high-level middleware to network devices. It will compete, for example, with Java, which Oracle started aggressively driving into the IoT space this year. Everyone agrees that fragmentation is perhaps the biggest IoT issue. Even Kickstarter startups are proposing ways to solve the challenge.
You don't see in the AllSeen group some industry giants, such as Apple, Google, Intel, Samsung, and Sony -- probably because these companies have or are developing their own internal IoT software initiatives.
Top-tier members of AllSeen (those who paid $300,000 for a seat on its board) include significant but generally smaller players -- Haier, LG Electronics, Panasonic, and the WiFi router maker TP-Link. A broader cast of generally second-tier players anted up between $5,000 and $50,000 for a seat at the meetings. The biggest of them include Cisco Systems, HTC (one of Qualcomm's closest customers), and Harman.
Clearly, these folks hope the code is useful in their products and catches fire with a broader set of companies. But so far their expressions of commitment are mainly unspecific.
Among the exceptions, Guodong Xue, a director of standards and patents at China white goods maker Haier said in an AllSeen press release, "We are planning to implement the AllJoyn-based framework across our line of appliances."
What the industry will need to see from AllSeen is a steady stream of useful code and member companies adopting it in shipping products. To date, I am not familiar with anyone using AllJoyn outside Qualcomm (generally in technology demos such as its Toq smartwatch), even though it has been around for more than a couple of years.
The group describes AllJoyn/AllSeen as "a code base of various modular services that enable discovery of adjacent devices, pairing, message routing and security."
AllSeen is still organizing work groups and their tasks. So far it has agreed to focus on issues such as device discovery, network access, user notifications, and audio streaming.
Intellectual property rights around the software appear pretty clean, but it's not clear if Qualcomm holds any patents on it. AllSeen will release its work under the ISC license.
— Rick Merritt, Silicon Valley Bureau Chief, EE Times