ABB, Bosch, and Cisco plan to establish an international joint venture that will develop and operate an open software platform for smart home devices and applications. A shareholder agreement to this effect was signed on November 27, 2014.
The joint venture is to be domiciled in Germany. The plan is subject to approval by the antitrust authorities. The companies involved expect that the joint venture will be able to commence operations at the beginning of 2015.
For a home to be “smart,” it is crucial that all the appliances and systems in the home – e.g., washing machine, heating units, lamps or window blinds – can simply and securely exchange data with each other as well as with smartphones and tablets. The aim of the joint venture is to develop and operate an open software platform that will enable this simple exchange of data between different manufacturers’ devices. In the future, therefore, users will not have to worry about technological compatibility when operating their electric and electronic devices at home. The new platform will also make it possible to provide a range of services related to household devices, in areas such as energy management, security technology, and entertainment. This will help enable new business models: Software developers, for example, will be able to create a wide variety of apps for these areas of use.
In addition to developing and operating a software platform, the companies intend to invite appliance electronics manufacturers, home automation vendors, and service providers to join a business ecosystem. The business ecosystem will aim to facilitate collaboration and incorporate a wide range of user requirements when developing the software platform.