Today, the Internet of Things (IoT) is mainly associated with vertically integrated systems that often are closed and fragmented in their applicability. To build a better IoT ecosystem, the open IoT platform has become a popular term in the recent years. However, this term is usually used in an intuitive way without clarifying the openness aspects of the platforms. The goal of this paper is to characterize the openness types of IoT platforms and investigate what makes them open. We conducted a systematic mapping study by retrieving data from 718 papers. As a result of applying the inclusion and exclusion criteria, 221 papers were selected for review. We discovered 46 IoT platforms that have been characterized as open, whereas 25 platforms are referred as open by some studies rather than the platforms themselves. We found that the most widely accepted and used open IoT platforms are NodeMCU and ThingSpeak that together hold a share of more than 70% of the declared open IoT platforms in the selected papers. The openness of an IoT platform is interpreted into different openness types. Our study results show that the most common openness type encountered in open IoT platforms is open-source, but also open standards, open APIs, open data and open layers are used in the literature. Finally, we propose a new perspective on how to define openness in the context of IoT platforms by providing several insights from the different stakeholder viewpoints.
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