Frost & Sullivan: “There will be close to 80bn connected devices by 2020”

Tyrone Stewart

Frost & Sullivan (Archana Vidyasekar)The idea of living a fully connected life in a fully connected world is not a new concept and brands are forever trying to be the first one through the door with their latest connected devices. Whether that’s a virtual assistant called Alexa Echo-ing through your home, a self-driving vehicle from Tesla (not that Nikola fella) or a fridge that lets you know what you need without opening the door from Samsung.

It is this now constant influx of connected devices all around us that has led business consulting firm Frost & Sullivan to predict there will be as many as 80bn connected devices around the world by 2020.

Speaking at the Connected Consumer Summit, Frost & Sullivan’s global research manager Archana Vidyasekar said: “We believe there will be close to 80bn connected devices by 2020, meaning nearly 120bn by 2025. This may seem like a huge number to you, but every time we present this to technology companies, especially when you present to CTOs, they tell us ‘Frost & Sullivan, you’re being very conservative’.

“We have to look at the infrastructure that facilitates this connectivity – the availability of wi-fi in public spaces, the availability of 3G and 4G, broadband connectivity – both in the developing countries and the developing regions. Taking all of that into consideration, we believe 80bn devices by 2020 is an achievable scenario. We hope the future exceeds our expectations.”

Mobile developments
Much of the connected device growth can be to advances in mobile technologies. 4G has the capability to account for up to 500,000 connections per square kilometre, however, “we’re not exploiting it to its full potential,” said Vidyasekar.

With 5G, there is a possibility to connect to over 1m devices per square kilometre – due to its low latency and speed.

Vidyasekar continued: “You can imagine for future applications, like a fully autonomous Tesla or a fully connected car, low latency and making decisions quickly is very important.

“We’ve been tracking it in terms of implementation – which countries are likely to have widespread 5G – and we believe in countries such as Japan, South Korea, the US, the UK and Europe, this could be implemented in a big way from 2020 onwards and we should see emerging countries also follow suit soon after that.”

Show me the money
The biggest market in the connected spectrum is the connected living market. Frost & Sullivan predicts it will be worth nearly $730bn – which is “by far the biggest we have seen”.

“It’s very easily a market that can be integrated. One service provider can easily aggregate services across all verticals for one consolidated package for the consumer,” said Vidysekar.

Much of this $730bn is expected to come from home automation and home security. But the health sector could have a significant role to play also, due to the increasing age of the population.

“if you look at the willingness to pay from the consumers end, the two main things they would open their wallets for are security of the home and energy management,” Vidysekar went on. “In the future, home health will be a very important sector to watch, if you’re looking at future growth opportunities because of the aging population, especially in the Western world, and there will be a demand for assisted living, remote health, telehealth etc.”

Vidysekar is adamant that eCommerce, despite not being previously considered part of the connected home, has a role to play in connected living spend also.

“A few years back, we didn’t really consider eCommerce part of the connected home,” she said. “All of us shop online from our homes, and it is part of a living environment, but it’s not really part of the connected home market in that sense. But, with products like Amazon Dash, I think this is a very interesting addition to the whole angle of home automation. The whole process of buying and replenishing groceries in home is being completely automated.

“This angle of automation is a fresh perspective to home, and I think eCommerce going forward should be included and analysed as part of the connected home environment. It can easily be bundled by a utility provider or by a telecom provider as part of their connected home solutions.”

Frost & Sullivan (Archana Vidyasekar) 2Remote on your wrist
The growth in wearables is changing how consumers interact with devices. More and more people are relying on wearables to handle various tasks.

“The remote control of life is moving from the smartphone to the wearables – and I think that’s something that’s interesting to watch,” said Vidysekar.

Despite this increased adoption of wearables, Vidysekar made it clear that the problem is they are not yet standalone devices and still rely on smartphones to operate. She feels that, when enterprises push wearables, there is “potential for these devices becoming much more integral in our lives and there will be more trust from the consumers’ ends for these devices, and we might start using them for all other purposes”.

Subscribing our lives away
Connectivity is moving at a rapid rate and this is even evident in government adoption, notably in Helsinki.

In the city, they are offering mobility as a service to its citizens – on a subscription basis, similar to how people subscribe to data services from a telecom company.

“We all use mobility-integrated apps, for example CityMapper or Google Maps, and it integrates the journey for you across all different modes. It gives you the best route possible, using different modes of transport, to get from point A to point B,” Vidysekar said.

“That’s essentially what Helsinki is envisaging to do for its citizens – where it’s offering mobility as a service. The interesting part is that they’re offering this on a subscription basis – much like how you subscribe to a telecom operator for data services, you will subscribe to the government for mobility services.

“In the future, more of this will be living in a digital world based on subscription services.”