A Look at the State of Connected Devices in 2017
APR 03, 2017 17:57 PM
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A Look at the State of Connected Devices in 2017

By Larry Alton

The connected devices trend is one that seems to be growing at a faster rate each year. This calendar year will be no different, as more and more companies continue to get involved. But where exactly do things stand and what can be expected in 2017 and beyond?

Where We Currently Stand

Depending on which source you reference and the data you choose to highlight, the total number of connected devices worldwide fluctuates rather significantly. However, regardless of the source, one thing always remains consistent: the estimates are massive.

According to one resource, the total number of connected devices in 2016 was an estimated 22.9 billion. In 2017, that figure is anticipated to scale to 28.4 billion devices. That’s a year-over-year growth rate of 24 percent. And if you take a step back and look all the way to 2020, experts are calling for more than 50.1 billion connected devices. That’s more than double where we currently stand. 

In other words, we’re about to undergo some rather significant growth over the next four years. But it all starts with 2017. What can we expect to see happen with connected devices and the internet of things (IoT) this year? It’s a question many are asking – and one that features no shortage of opinions.

Growth of Connected Devices in 2017

Last summer, Ericsson released their annual Mobility Report, which discussed the future of mobile and provided a wealth of interesting data around the future of the industry. But as expert Will Sullivan put it, “The surprise star of the report is not mobile phones though—although it will continue to grow, especially in emerging markets where it hasn’t reached saturation like it has in the U.S.—it’s the Internet Of Things (IoT), which is projected to surpass mobile phones by 2018 according to Ericsson.”

You read that right, by the end of next year, IoT connected devices are expected to surpass the total number of mobile phones in circulation. That’s an astonishing feat – and one that speaks directly to the potential of the industry.

But how will this massive growth happen? One thing we’re going to see this year is the continued proliferation of totally new products and devices. Innovation is at an all-time high and there’s little reason to believe 2017 will be any different from years past. If anything, we can expect to see an even greater flurry of activity than ever before.

The “connected devices” label no longer exclusively reserved tablets and smart home gadgets. We’re seeing it spill over into areas that you would never have thought possible. Take luggage as an example. An entirely new luggage niche, known as smart luggage, is becoming quite popular. These suitcases possess a myriad of features that communicate with a smartphone app to provide real-time information related to location, weight, and more.

Then, there’s the growth in wearables. In 2017, look for expansion in wearable healthcare, virtual reality, “smart fashion,” fitness tracking, personal safety devices, and even pet tracking.

No Signs of Stopping

Connected devices are moving forward and don’t show any signs of stopping. Perhaps the only constricting factor here is the conundrum of how to deal with an influx of new data.

As expert Michael Porter wrote back in 2014,“Smart, connected products raise a new set of strategic choices related to how value is created and captured, how the prodigious amount of new (and sensitive) data they generate is utilized and managed, how relationships with traditional business partners such as channels are redefined, and what role companies should play as industry boundaries are expanded.”

Once data collection, storage, and privacy catch up, look out. The industry may vastly exceed even the most liberal expectations.


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