Are We Holding the ‘Death’ of Open Standards in Our Hands?

Posted on August 23rd, 2017

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Smartphones are everywhere these days. Nearly everywhere you look, people are using their devices to communicate, shop, track fitness, lock their doors or even change the settings on their home heating and air conditioning units. We are getting ever closer to controlling almost every aspect of our lives from the palm of our hand.

However, if you take away the phone, these other gadgets tend to exist in a vacuum. The phone is home base for all of them, and they have no awareness of each other. Interconnectivity as a whole remains incomplete with no industry wide standards to fix it. Open standards across the Internet of Things (IoT) devices can be of major value to smartphone users, allowing for better, more inclusive interconnectivity.

Fast Company’s article “How the Smartphone Era Led to the Death of Open Standards,” examines how, during the PC age, Microsoft was able to develop industry standards that were designed to help objects connect with each other. However, as the popularity of Apple and Google through Android devices drew, and the smartphone became the dominant method of Internet usage, their proprietary standards became increasingly dominant.

However, as we’ve pointed out before, open standards in the age of the smartphone can be enormously valuable for users. Open standards can help to drive down costs, amp up innovation and improve access, benefitting and giving more choices to the millions of global smartphone users. Our guiding principles are built around the idea that innovation and collaboration within the framework of open standards allows for better global interoperability, scalability, stability, and resiliency as well as enabling global competition and continuously encouraging providers to provide the best security possible.

While it’s too early to say what impact proprietary standards may have on development of IoT standards, “…if smartphones define the post-PC era, the Internet of Things may come to define a more disparate, decentralized post-smartphone era. Smartphones will still play a role–just as PCs continue to matter–but it wouldn’t be a central one from which the dominant companies can dictate standards. That would give industry groups the opportunity to build bridges between at least some of the islands that the smartphone era is creating.”

How do you think smartphones have impacted open standard development? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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