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ITU Internet of Things Forecast: 25 Billion Devices by 2020

July 22, 2015 By Steve Senne in

With mobile phones reaching a saturation point in developed markets, carriers are looking to the Internet of Things as an important growth engine moving forward – and the International Telecommunications Union has some good news on that front, as well as some interesting data about social media and Big Data.

Internet of Things Forecast

Shipments of various types of wireless IoT devices are expected to reach 1 billion this year according to the ITU’s“Trends in Telecommunication Reform 2015” report. That would be a year-over-year increase of 60 percent and would bring the global installed base of connected devices to 2.8 billion by year-end 2015. Furthermore, the number of wearable devices is estimated to have reached 109 million as of the beginning of 2015, according to ITU.

Looking out further, the number of networked devices installed worldwide is expected to reach 25 billion by 2020. IoT revenues will reach $1.7 trillion globally by 2019 to become the largest device market in the world, ITU forecasts, ITU says.

Growth in new connected devices will be broad-based, driven in the main by consumer-connected organizations – businesses, hospitals, local authorities and other organizations and institutions, according to ITU. Manufacturing, utilities and transportation will also contribute to rapid growth.

In 2015 demand for tablets is expected to reach 234.5 million units. As global PC and laptop shipments go into “chronic decline,” as many as 1.4 billion smartphones will be shipped. That would exceed sales of PCs, TV sets, tablets and game consoles combined, both in terms of units and revenues, according to ITU.

Social Media

Growing use of social media and other types of mobile apps is also transforming the ICT landscape. The number of active social media accounts surpassed 2.07 billion in January. Active mobile social accounts represented 81 percent of the total.

As use of social media grows challenges to regulators with regard to fundamental issues such as privacy, ownership and use of consumers’ personal data. ITU recommends regulators take a proactive approach with regard to instituting policies and regulations but look to co- and self-regulatory mechanisms as the primary means of doing so. Consumer outreach and education are also key to helping assure a healthy and vital ICT market, according to ITU.

Big Data

Big Data is another aspect of ICT transformation ITU focuses on in its “Trends” report. Data that cost $150,000 to store in 1970 can be stored more accurately today for as little as one cent, ITU notes. That’s led to rapid growth in the use of Big Data analytics, which in turn is driving innovation and even faster pace of change.

In its report ITU points out the potential downsides of data collection on such a massive and pervasive scale. Regulators need to assess the implications of Big Data collection for consumers, businesses and the economy, and do so quickly, ITU says.