IoT Devices to Outnumber Humans in 2017
Michael Alba posted on September 09, 2017 |
Gartner forecasts 8.4 billion connected things to be in use this year.
The projected number of IoT devices (in millions) across a range of categories. (Image courtesy of Gartner.)
The projected number of IoT devices (in millions) across a range of categories. (Image courtesy of Gartner.)

Good news, everyone! This is the year that we’ll finally cross the threshold where the number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices exceeds the total population of humans on Earth. Research company Gartner forecasts that we’ll see 8.4 billion IoT devices in use in 2017, one for each of the 7.5 billion people currently inhabiting the planet (with almost a billion to spare).

This research reveals just how quickly the IoT is poised to grow. The 8.4 billion IoT devices predicted for this year amounts to a 31 percent rise compared to 2016. But we’re still just warming up—by 2020, the number of IoT devices will more than double, with Gartner predicting 20.4 billion IoT devices online. So unless these predictions fall well short of the mark, or there’s a sudden boom in human breeding, it looks like we’ll be outnumbered by our devices for the foreseeable future.

An IoT Explosion

Gartner further forecasts where and how the device explosion will occur. North America, China and Western Europe are the biggest IoT drivers, with these regions accounting for 67 percent of IoT devices globally. In terms of IoT applications, the consumer market has the biggest slice of the IoT pie, with consumer devices representing 63 percent of IoT applications in 2017. The most popular consumer IoT devices include automotive systems, smart TVs and digital set-top boxes.

Another interesting feature of Gartner’s research is the significance of IoT services, which are on track to earn $273 billion this year.

“IoT services are central to the rise in IoT devices,” said Gartner’s Denise Rueb. “Services are dominated by the professional IoT-operational technology category in which providers assist businesses in designing, implementing and operating IoT systems. However, connectivity services and consumer services will grow at a faster pace. Consumer IoT services are newer and growing off a small base. Similarly, connectivity services are growing robustly as costs drop and new applications emerge.”

Including both IoT services and devices, a pretty hefty total for IoT spending will be reached in 2017: nearly $2 trillion across the consumer and business market segments. We’ve known the incredible value of the IoT for a while, but it’s always worth remembering just how transformative the IoT will be—and a $2 trillion price tag certainly drives that point home.

You can check out more of Gartner’s IoT research here. To learn more about the rise of the IoT, read “IoT Popularity Is Rising, and So Are Cyber Security Concerns.”

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