A zillion connected devices, or…?

I’m not sure how it all started but from my records I can see that in 2008 IDC projected that there would be about 15 billion connected devices in 2015, in 2009 the GSMA stated that it expected 50 billion connected devices by 2025, and the same year Verizon claimed that 500% wireless penetration is possible. Then Ericsson trumped them all with its vision that there would be 50 billion mobile connections by 2020. And for some years that was the undisputed leader of sizing the future connected device market. Then came the Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona and something important had happened. Someone at a PR agency somewhere had figured out that if we skip the terms M2M or connected devices and instead call it Internet of Things the market potential would be even bigger. Suddenly Ericsson’s 2020 vision sounded a bit conservative, and Huawei grabbed the opportunity and suggested that there would be 100 billion connections by 2025. Enter ZTE, who thought this was peanuts and suggested in its Global Analyst Conference that we actually will have 100 billion such connections already by 2020. I guess that it would not be too bold a guess saying that we will soon have even more optimistic projections brought into daylight.

The interesting thing with all this is that 2020 is not that far away so now normal, sound forecasting starts to play a role, at least when PR and marketing people have closed down for the day and gone to the pub. Ericsson, whose Mobility Report always makes interesting reading, now forecasts a total market in 2019 of about 9 billion mobile subscriptions including Internet of Things and everything else. And we will probably see other more realistic numbers cropping up from others too. So, in all this hype about how big the IoT market will be we have a reality gap of about 80-90 billion connections between what appears as normal forecasting and the most optimistic claims. I really believe the IoT market is very interesting and has great potential for the whole ICT industry, but in its realization it would benefit from solid analyses of the drivers to focus on, what barriers we need to eliminate and what type of ecosystems need to be in place for it to one day became a 50 billion (or more) connected devices market. Maybe even as early as 2027.


Bengt is the CEO of Northstream

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