The Coming Waves of Connected Devices


One look at the market for connected devices and it seems as though connectivity is no longer just considered to be an added luxury for consumers; it has become a requirement. Consumers want Internet connectivity everywhere; they want it in their cars, on their digital photo frames,  in their  cell phones, and for some, even their dog’s collar.

With the options so vast and wide, the question is just how many of these devices are available today and how fast will this market grow moving forward? According to industry analyst IMS Research, the total number of connected devices is expected to surpass 5 billion this month and could reach 22 billion by 2020.

IMS Research attributes this growth to the installed base of connected devices already up and running, as well as new types of devices which will become available in the future. Looking ahead, the firm says the expansion of the market will consist of a number of different waves.

Ian Weightman, president of IMS Research, says the first wave was that of PCs, laptops, and networking equipment, with more than 1 billion computers already connected to the Web on a regular basis worldwide.

The involvement of cellular carriers in the connected space is acting as a major driver for the second wave of growth, with the number of Web-enabled cell phones already having topped the amount of connected computers. Other factors contributing to this growth include consumer devices such as ereaders, tablets, and digital photo frames.

Weightman predicts there will be more than 6 billion cell phones in use worldwide by 2020, most of which with Internet connectivity. Cars and televisions will play a significant role as well in bringing the market to 22 billion strong by 2020.

“Consider that there are around 2.5 billion TVs in use today, and that many of these will be replaced with Internet connected sets,” says Weightman. “In addition, an increasing proportion of the world’s 1.1 billion cars will be replaced by models that have Internet connectivity.”

According to Weightman, the third and largest wave will come from more deployments of technology outside of business operations.

“This has the potential to go way beyond industrial applications to encompass increasingly sophisticated smart grids, networked security cameras and sensors, connected home appliances and HVAC equipment, ITS infrastructure, etc.,” says Weightman.

With the connected devices market having already experienced such rapid growth in a short amount of time, it will be interesting to see just how big it has become by 2020. Perhaps 22 billion?

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June/July 2014
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