Open Standards Face Challenges in Era of Proprietary Ecosystems

Posted on December 9th, 2015

New devices continue to proliferate into even the most mundane corners of our everyday life, through mobile, wearable technology, smart-home and smart health devices. However, according to Fast Company tech blogger Ross Rubin, the proliferation of proprietary Android and IOS software and devices doesn’t always support an environment in which open standards flourish.

Image: Fast Company

New devices continue to proliferate into even the most mundane corners of our everyday life, through mobile, wearable technology, smart-home and smart health devices. However, according to Fast Company tech blogger Ross Rubin, the proliferation of proprietary Android and IOS software and devices doesn’t always support an environment in which open standards flourish. In a recent post “How the Smart Phone Led to the Death of Open Standards” Rubin quipped:

“What we’re evolving towards is a sea full of islands—gadgets that can communicate back to a smartphone but have little awareness of each other. There have been several attempts to bridge them, including APIs, a few hubs aimed at enthusiasts, and the service IFTTT. But overall, connectivity remains fractured, and there’s no reason to think that an industry-wide standard will fix things anytime soon.”

Rubin’s assertions are not groundless. Google and Apple both leverage proprietary software to enforce market share, and there’s not an incredible amount of profit incentive to make Android and iOS don’t cooperate with each other. As a result, consumers have become more deeply entrenched in the brands, and this consumer choices influences marketshare beyond the mobile phone.

For example, the HDMI-connected media player market, the popularity of proprietary gadgets like Google’s Chromecast and Apple’s AppleTV have far exceeded that of the Microsoft WDA (Wireless Display Adapter) which supports the open Wi-Fi Alliance based specification, Miracast. This trend is also being felt in the auto industry, where many automobile manufacturers elect to support one or more dominant proprietary mobile platforms in built-in display consoles. Offerings from Apple and Google (Android) continue to dominate, while other, consortium-backed, interoperable technical specifications have struggled to gain significant market share.

However, the dominance of proprietary platforms and their impact on open standards support should not be construed as evidence of a less than bright future for open standards advancement. Google and Apple are both participants in numerous standardization efforts. Further, the Internet of Things is still relatively young. There are also significant pushes being made that encourage software developers to invest in standard-friendly platforms.

As we the principles support voluntary market adoption, collaboration, openness, we hope to see future standards introduced that encourage interoperability between proprietary platforms. To raise your voice in support of open standards, please:

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