Internet of Things 'to reach 26bn units by 2020'

12 December 2013


Posted by Michelle Devonshire

Estimates from Gartner suggest the Internet of Things (IoT), which refers to various internet-accessible devices outside of PCs, tablets and smartphones, will experience rapid growth in the upcoming years.

In seven years, there will be almost 30 times the amount of gadgets compared to the 0.9 billion used in 2009. This will generate more than $300 billion (£183 billion) in 2020, most of which will be generated by service suppliers.

Gartner's research director Peter Middleton said: "By 2020, component costs will have come down to the point that connectivity will become a standard feature, even for processors costing less than $1. This opens up the possibility of connecting just about anything, from the very simple to the very complex, to offer remote control, monitoring and sensing."

In contrast, PCs, smartphones and tablets will only reach 7.3 billion units, becoming outnumbered at least three to one in favour of IoT devices.

Part of this growth, according to Mr Middleton, is because many more devices may still become connected to the internet. There are entire categories of technology and items which may begin accessing the web in the upcoming years, adding to the IoT's boom.

Many large technology companies have already banded together to help nurture the IoT and adapt to the trend, resulting in the founding of the Allseen Alliance.

This is partially led by the Linux Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping the growth of the Linux operating system, best known as the basis for Android. As an open-source alternative to Windows and iOS, this option could help rapidly and efficiently support the growing IoT.

Linux Foundation's executive director Jim Zemlin said: "Open source software and collaborative development have been proven to accelerate technology innovation in markets where major transformation is underway."

Gartner also expects 'ghost' devices to be a common occurrence. These are products that have the option to become online-enabled but typically require software updates or other additions to activate. Many users may not take up this extra functionality, turning the device into a 'ghost', as it does not affect or interact with the IoT.

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