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Gartner: 20 billion things on the Internet by 2020

Sorry, Cisco: America doesn't have enough legal weed for us to find 50 billion devices

Gartner's predicting a four-fold increase in the number of Internet of Things devices in the world by 2020, from today's 4.9 billion to nearly 21 billion.

If Gartner's mushroom-and-crystal-ball session got the numbers right, the industry's going to have to get to work reclassifying a whole lot of stuff as some-kind-of-thing, or resign itself to abandoning the common “50 billion things” hyperbole.

The prognosticator's magic pencil has ruled a line under IoT device growth with the prediction that it will hit 20 billion by 2020. Cisco and Ericsson, on the other hand, worship at the Church of 50-billion-things.

The greatest numbers of connected things, Gartner says, will be connected by consumers, who will connect more than ten billion new devices between now and 2020.

By that time, the pundit predicts, the consumer spend will be worth US$1.5 billion annually.

Businesses in the same period will add around 5.4 billion devices, but at a much greater unit value, so the enterprise market will be worth $1.477 billion by 2020.

Category Consumer Business: Cross-Industry Business: Vertical-Specific Grand Total
2014 2,277 632 898 3,807
2015 3,023 815 1,065 4,902
2016 4,024 1,092 1,276 6,392
2020 13,509 4,408 2,880 20,797

Gartner's IoT device forecast (billions)

All those things will need support, naturally, so Gartner reckons by 2020, the sector's services spending will be in the vicinity of $235 million.

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