Web-connected devices to reach 22 billion by 2020

News 19 Aug, 2010

Soon there will be more internet devices than people on the planet, research firm IMS Research has revealed. And the number is just going to keep on growing.

The number of devices connected to the internet is expected to break through the five billion mark this month, according to web market research firm IMS Research.

And numbers could be as high as 22 billion by 2020.

The company believes the next few years will see a “second wave” of web connectivity take hold as the majority of mobile phones and other electronic equipment such as televisions, cameras and even cars become web-enabled.

“In the first connectivity wave, the bulk of devices connected to the internet were PCs and laptops plus their associated modem and networking equipment,” IMS Research’s president Ian Weightman revealed.

“Today, over one billion computers worldwide are regularly connected to the internet, and this number is growing steadily.”

However, at present it's the mobile phone industry that is driving the uptake of web connectivity forward, Weightman says, with the number of internet-connected mobile phones now having surpassed connected computers, and still growing rapidly.

And with the rise of internet-enabled TVs too – the third of the so-called “three screens” that dominate consumer media consumption after computers and mobile phones – and spin-off devices such as tablets, digital photo frames and cameras also starting to feature web connectivity, the second wave seems likely to be even stronger than the first.

And it's this tremendous momentum that will see the number of connected devices grow at an unprecedented scale over the next 10 years, IMS Research predicts, to more than four times what it is today.

“We are forecasting that there will be over six billion cell phones in use around the world [by 2020],” Weightman said, “the great majority of which will be internet connected.

“Then consider that there are around 2.5 billion TVs in use today, and that many of these will be replaced with internet-connected sets, and you have another tremendous growth area. In addition, an increasing proportion of the world’s 1.1 billion cars will be replaced by models that have internet connectivity.”

However, it's what Weightman calls “the third wave” – machine-to-machine deployments – that will ultimately make the difference towards the end of the decade.

“The potential for greatest growth comes from the third wave which will include machine-to-machine (M2M) deployments,” Weightman argued. “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, and so on.”