The number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices is expected to overtake the number of mobile phones by 2018, according to Ericsson’s Mobility Report.
The IoT will become the largest category of connected devices in two years' time, and 16 billion are forecast to be in use by the end of 2021 as growth in the sector rises by 23 per cent annually.
Ericsson said that Western Europe will lead the way with a 400 per cent rise in the number of IoT devices between now and 2021.
Comparatively, the growth of smartphones is forecast to rise from 3.4 billion to 6.3 billion by 2021, indicating a healthy appetite for the latest handsets, although the demand for IoT devices will greatly outstrip the demand for mobile phones, according to the report.
This growth will be driven by regulatory requirements in other sectors prompting the need for more connected devices and sensors, such as the need for connected cars to have a European Union-wide eCall function that automatically calls the emergency services in the event of a crash.
Rima Qureshi, senior vice president and chief strategy officer at Ericsson, explained that the falling cost of IoT devices, along with improvements in cellular networks, will spur the huge growth of IoT devices.
"The IoT is now accelerating as device costs fall and innovative applications emerge. From 2020, the commercial deployment of 5G networks will provide additional capabilities that are critical for the IoT, such as network slicing and the capacity to connect exponentially more devices than is possible today,” he said.
But an increase in IoT devices will further fuel the fragmentation in the market, which in turn will put more pressure on technology companies and regulators to come up with uniform standards for IoT security, connectivity and interoperability.
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