So, what has all the IoT/M2M hype entailed in the market place? Are the early entrants rollling in the revenues as has been forecast? More importantly (especially to us here within the telecom circle), has it really opened doors for new revenue streams for communications service providers? International Data Corporation(IDC) has just unveiled some new figures in its latest study, the Worldwide Internet of Things 2014-2020 Forecast: Forecast Update and Revenue by Technology Split, saying that the IoT market is on track to hitting USD3 trillion in 2020, growing at a CAGR of 13% from now until then after registering USD1.3 trillion in revenues in 2013. This is by far the highest analyst estimate for this sector.
The most interesting discussion on the IoT often centers on how existing technology verticals will branch out into newer segments and how brand new verticals will be created. At the same time, there has been much focus on who among the existing players - from software companies to manufacturers to service providers - will take the leadership in this relatively nascent industry and how the growth of the sector will see the creation of new companies offering products and services never offered before in the market. In its release, IDC outlined the ecosystem (list of companies) that has evolved rapidly around the IoT theme - and the layout seems to be pretty much the same as in other software driven technology sectors. On one end, IDC listed players from the device end - makers of smarthome appliances, smarthealth devices and pure M2M component manufacturers. On the other end, there are the IoT/M2M platform providers - offering cloud-based services that bundle storage, software and end-user applications. In between, there are the connection providers, namely wireless operators such as AT&T, KDDI, Orange, Sprint, SingTel, Telefonica, TeliaSonera, Verizon, T-Mobile, Telenor Group, EE, KPN, Rogers, BT, SK Telecom, Vodafone and China Mobile as listed by IDC and network infrastructure providers which include Juniper, Nokia Networks, Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei, Cisco, U-Blox, Tele2 and Ericsson. The IoT ecosystem is expected not only to redefine the boundaries of the telecommunications sector - as end devices that are connected on wireless networks span a wide range of industries including oil and gas, power, transportation, logistics, healthcare and agriculture (think of sheep which carry micro M2M tags) and as online and mobile applications powered by M2M cloud solutions provided by communications service providers become widespread - it is also expected to drive new alliances, strategic partnerships and collaborative initiatives across multiple players from all over the value chain, across industries and across countries.
According to IDC, the installed and connected base of IoT units will reach about 30 billion in 2020, which means that there will be 4 connected 'things' for every 1 person on the planet. With the development of IoT being clearly skewed towards the more developed countries, the number of connected 'things' around us is expected to be much higher and the use of various IoT/M2M appliances, gadgets and applications and multiple subscriptions to IoT/M2M services (including connectivity) is expected to become a widespread feature in our daily lives.