Six Billion Connected Devices by Next Year: the Internet of Things Takes Shape

By the end of 2016 some 6.4 billion 'things' -- devices from toasters and kettles to cars and hospital equipment -- will be connected to the internet, according to analyst Gartner.

By Colin Barker

That figure represents a 30 percent rise from 2015 -- and will grow further to reach 20.8 billion by 2020. By 2016, as many as 5.5 million new things will become connected every day.

Related: The Evolution of IoT . . . and the Future

As a result, the growing Internet of Things will support total services spending of $235bn in 2016, up 22 percent from 2015, the analyst predicts.

In addition, Gartner believes that most of that money will be spent on what it calls the "professional category". This means that businesses, instead of implementing IT themselves, will contract with external providers to order, design, install and operate IoT systems. At the same time, Gartner says connectivity services, through communications service providers, and consumer services will grow at an even faster pace.

Jim Tully, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, said: "IoT services are the real driver of value in IoT, and increasing attention is being focused on new services by end-user organisations and vendors."

Gartner estimates that four billion connected things will be in use in the consumer sector in 2016, and that figure will reach 13.5 billion in 2020.

When looking at enterprise computing, Gartner says it considers two classes of connected things.
The first class consists of generic or cross-industry devices that are used in multiple industries, such as connected light bulbs, and HVAC and building management systems that are mainly deployed for purposes of cost savings.

Related: What is the Internet of Things? And why should you care?

The second class includes vertical-specific devices that are found in particular industries, such as specialised equipment used in hospital operating theatres and tracking devices in container ships.

"Connected things for specialised use are currently the largest category," said Tully. "However, this is quickly changing with the increased use of generic devices [and] by 2020, cross-industry devices will dominate the number of connected things used in the enterprise."