Internet of Things Consortium gains Mojio, hopes to avoid irrelevance

The decision by Canadian connected car cloud platform start-up Mojio to join the Internet of Things Consortium (IoTC) has been trumpeted loudly by both parties over the recent holiday period, perhaps hoping to make a splash ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show. The IoTC has struggled to make itself heard against the clamor from IoT standards bodies and industry associations and has so far failed to gain the thought leadership position it hoped when founded in 2015. It has however gained more prominence with the continuing rise of the connected car and signing up Mojio, as one of Canada’s fastest growing start-ups, has somewhat boosted its profile.

The IoTC was set up as a forum for knowledge sharing and establishment of cross-industry strategic partnerships. This attracted Mojio, which realized it needs to establish partnerships to compete with larger competitors in the field of connected car IoT platforms, such as Microsoft, AT&T, Airbiquity and Cisco following its 2016 acquisition of Jasper. The total connected car platform market is now worth around $8bn globally, and Mojio is focusing on the part carved out by mobile network operators rather than the OEMs.

Its success so far is in large part down to four deployments with Deutsche Telekom companies in Europe, T-Mobile Polska, Telekom Deutschland, T-Mobile Austria and T-Mobile Czech Republic, for which the company has provided telco grade platforms for various connected car services. In the US it is collaborating with Metro by T-Mobile (formerly MetroPCS), a prepaid wireless carrier brand owned by T-Mobile US, to provide the guts of its MetroSMART Ride service. This combines an OBD device with a mobile app providing various safety alerts and vehicle diagnostics, as well as a WiFi hotspot for infotainment.

With Mojio on board the IoTC is leaning towards a focus on automotive, which may not be such a handicap given that is one of the fast growing IoT fields, although it remains in danger of being lost among the long grass of standards bodies. That list is populated both by established Internet or tech standards bodies such as the IETF, IEEE and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), along with dedicated wireless protocol bodies like Zigbee, Bluetooth and the WiFi Alliance.

There are also more recently formed bodies addressing challenges within the IoT ecosystem as a whole, such as Thread focusing on the distinct interoperability, security, power, and architecture challenges. Thread is a low-power wireless mesh networking protocol, based on IP with in-built security features to connect devices without a single point of failure, with self-healing capabilities. Then there is the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF, formerly the Open Interconnect Consortium), which brought together powerhouse chip and electronics makers to develop an open specification for IoT interoperability, whose backers include Atmel, Broadcom, Dell, Intel, Samsung and Wind River.

The OCF eventually swallowed its main rival, the AllSeen Alliance, and in similar fashion, the holiday period has seen the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) and the OpenFog Consortium announce that they too would be merging, due to their overlapping interests and membership.

The IIC has a higher-level focus than the likes of Thread and OCF, addressing implementation and testing rather than standards, developing testbed programs for the various sectors it represents, including agriculture and health care as well as manufacturing and naturally automotive.

Between them these bodies cover all the ground of the IoTC and some have stronger representation. There are though some big names among IoTC members, especially on the service provider front with T-Mobile and Verizon, as well as LG, and it can now hope to become a forger of alliances within the connected car space where big OEMs as well as major telcos are wary of giving a free run to the Internet powerhouses. This is allowing room for new consortia to emerge and the IoTC could help incubate some of those.