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Internet Connected Devices About to Pass the 5 Billion Milestone

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The number of devices that are connected to the Internet is expected to pass the 5 billion milestone later this month, according to IMS Research. The company, which tracks the installed base of Internet capable equipment, believes that the second wave of connected device growth is accelerating, and this will be followed by further growth waves in many new connected device types, leading to its forecast of 22 billion Internet connected devices by 2020.

When explaining the basis for these numbers, IMS Research's President, Ian Weightman, stated: "In the first connectivity wave, the bulk of devices connected to the Internet were PCs and laptops plus their associated modem and networking equipment. Today, over 1 billion computers worldwide are regularly connected to the Internet, and this number is growing steadily."

The second wave of growth is being driven by the cellular industry, and the global number of Internet connected cell phones has now surpassed the number of connected computers and is growing at a much faster rate. When you add emerging Internet connected device sectors such as tablets, netbooks, eBook readers, Internet TVs, digital picture frames, cameras, etc., you reach the 5 billion devices we see connected today.

When pressed about why he expected this number to grow four-fold over the next ten years, Weightman replied: "There will be a number of drivers behind this amazing growth. Firstly, by 2020 we are forecasting that there will be over 6 billion cell phones in use around the world, 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, 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, this is only part of the picture, as Weightman explains: "The potential for greatest growth comes from the third wave which will include machine-to-machine (M2M) deployments. 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."

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