Report suggests evangelical IoT predictions are a ‘triumph of hope over reality’

15 Nov 2016

Mini weather station. Image: Budimir Jevtic/Shutterstock

Contrary to a number of predictions on the exponential growth of the internet of things (IoT), a new report from IDTechEx suggests that the opposite is the case, and the result of “bubble pushing” by the industry.

One of the most commonly cited figures when it comes to the expected growth of IoT in the coming years is that by 2020, there will be 50bn devices connected across the globe.

While it played a part in the largest DDoS attack recorded so far, IoT is credited with changing not just the world of gadgets and wearables, but how industry operates as a whole, introducing greater efficiency and productivity.

Future Human

1bn down from 20bn devices

However, not everyone is in agreement that the world is set to undergo such a radical change in the coming years.

According to a new report from the market analysis firm IDTechEx entitled Internet of Things (IoT) 2017-2027, suggestions of 50bn devices by 2020 are completely over-hyped and that actually, very little IoT was deployed in 2016.

In the preface to the report, one of the study’s authors, Dr Peter Harrop, described many IoT reports out there as “evangelical” rather than analytical, and that many are “bubble pushing” with their forecasts, predicting an ever steeper take-off to the point of physical impossibility. That is a triumph of hope over reality.”

Harrop went on to say that when it comes to the installation of sensor nodes globally, the focus on these devices is not a representation of the total IoT market. It predicts that there will only be 1bn IoT devices by 2020.

The report also criticises the conflation of IoT and the ‘internet of people’ that it refers to as being the development of wearable technology.

Still sees money to be made

What analysts fail to take into account, the report said, is that the cost of buying and installing IoT networks “is much more modest, contrary to heroic forecasts made by most analysts and manufacturers in the past”.

In financial terms, IDTechEx has estimated that the cost of installing nodes globally over the next 10 years will be around $20bn.

However, much of the money to be made will be in the development of software and support services, particularly following the realisation that many IoT devices could play a part in even larger cyberattacks than the one that used Mirai devices last October.

Going by IDTechEx’s estimates, this money will be substantial because while it estimates IoT to be worth $1bn this year, it envisions it to be worth close to $73bn in just two years’ time.

By 2027, this could even rise to as high as $322bn.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic