Sensors and Connected Peripherals Outpace Smartphones and PCs for Majority of Active Wireless Connections for the First Time in History



Will Top 65% of Total Active Connections by 2021

Oyster Bay, New York – 13 Jul 2016 — ABI Research forecasts the installed base of active wireless connected devices will top 47 billion by 2021, more than double the current level. Smartphones, PCs, and other “hub” devices historically commanded the leading share of total active connections, with accessories (including smartphone and PC peripherals, residential smart home lighting, and wearable devices) and sensor nodes (like Bluetooth beacons, proximity sensors, and other edge devices) rounding out the remainder. But moving forward, the latter will benefit most from continued improvements to underlying IoT infrastructure.

“A 24.1% CAGR through 2021 positions 2016 to be the first year that accessories and sensor nodes are in the majority, rising to more than 65% of total active connections by the end of the forecast period,” says Ryan Martin, Senior Analyst at ABI Research. “Now the critical question for companies is how to create a strategic framework that optimizes IoT solution ROI in concert with connected endpoint growth. Growth will be driven by a massive uptick in contextually-aware IoT endpoints across retail, advertising and supply chain, smart home, and industrial IoT markets.”

The recent convergence of low-power wide area, short-range wireless, and cellular networks represents a fertile battleground for the future of IoT enablement. While today about 55% of IoT connections can be attributed to the digital-first domain (the Internet of Digital), the emergence of low-power wide-area and short-range wireless network technologies purpose-built for the IoT puts the physical-first domain (IoT) on track to account for 65% of active wireless connections in the next five years.

The incipient IoT playing field includes everything from newly-minted specifications for Bluetooth 5 to the designation of Wi-Fi HaLow (802.11ah), LTE Cat M (followed by NB-IoT), and LPWAN technologies, such as those from Ingenu, LoRa, SIGFOX, and Thread. “Advances in mesh networking, location-aware ICs, and better utilization of unlicensed spectrum are among the key ingredients driving wireless sensor network deployments, and, in turn, the next generation of connected devices.”

These findings are from ABI Research’s Internet of Everything Market Tracker and Internet of Everything Semiannual Update. This report is part of the company’s IoT, IoE, & M2M sector, which includes research, data, and analyst insights.

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