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Report Predicts Surge in "Internet of Things" Devices

Also, growth in smartphones and mobile data consumption will continue to accelerate.


A new mobility report from Ericsson projects that the number of net-connected devices will increase by three or four times over the next five years.

There were some 200 million machine-to-machine devices online by the end of 2013 — a broad term that describes any device that exchanges information across a network without need for human intervention. These form the foundation of the “Internet of Things” phenomenon, and encompass everything from Internet-connected “smart meters” that keep track of energy consumption to cameras with built-in SIM cards to jump onto mobile networks.

Patrik Cerwall, Ericsson’s head of strategic marketing, said these devices communicate information across slower mobile networks today, but that will change by 2016, when the majority of such devices use higher-speed 3G or 4G networks.

Smartphones accounted for 65 percent of all phones sold worldwide in the first quarter, Ericsson found. Within two years’ time, the number of smartphone subscriptions will surpass basic mobile phones.

Consumer adoption of the smartphone has accelerated since Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007.

“It took five years to reach the first one billion smartphones,” Cerwall said. “Now, the next billion has been reached in just two years. … It’s not just developed markets. It’s everywhere, driven by lower-cost phones and rising middle class in many countries.”

Ericsson predicts that the number of smartphone subscriptions is expected to reach 5.6 billion by 2019. In Europe, the number will reach about 765 million over the next five years — with the number of gadgets exceeding the size of the population.

Smartphone users are a data-hungry bunch, with Ericsson projecting that the amount of mobile data consumed every month is expected to increase four times — spurred, at least in part, by video consumption.

“The traffic generated by video on mobile networks will grow substantially,” Cerwall said. “If you look at all the data transmitted on the world’s mobile networks, 40 percent of the data is video. … In five years, it’s going to be 50 percent.”

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