The numbers may vary depending on the respective report, but the end results all come to the same conclusion – connected consumer devices are growing at a rapid clip worldwide and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
“The explosion of connected devices is being driven by consumers seeking on-demand access to movies, music, social networking services, apps, connected devices, and other content,” says Mark Ritorto, president of Infinite Research.
His company recently released a report entitled, ‘Global Consumer Connected Device Market Forecast.’ Infinite Research estimates that overall shipments of consumer connected devices will increase from 262.1 million units in 2010 to 712.1 million units by 2015; the global installed base of consumer connected devices will top 2.1 billion units by 2015.
Virtually all mobile devices, noted Infinite Research, including e-readers, tablet computers, portable game consoles, media players, digital cameras, and camcorders, are being embedded with Internet connectivity; ditto for stationary consumer electronics devices – smart-TVs, connected set-top boxes, video game consoles, Blu-Ray/DVD players, digital photo frames and media phones.
London-based UMTS Forum, an international non-profit industry association that helps its members profit from the opportunities of 3G/UMTS networks, predicted in its report, ‘Two Worlds Connected: Consumer Electronics Meets Mobile Broadband,’ that there will be a global population of one billion mobile broadband consumer devices by 2016 and that consumer electronics (CE) device connectivity will overtake overall wireless market growth, also within five years.
“There’s no doubt that the CE industry must ‘connect or perish.’ In particular, we encourage operators and CE vendors to collaborate on developing new business models – like revenue sharing – that reduce upfront investment risk while generating new sources of value,” says UMTS Forum Chairman Jean-Pierre Bienaime.
Another report from market research firm Berg Insight says the global number of shipped consumer electronics devices with cellular connectivity grew to 22 million last year, compared to 11 million the previous year.
“The sheer availability of affordable devices with embedded connectivity has exploded during the last year with substantial price reductions on connected personal navigation devices and popular e-readers such as the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook,” says Berg Insight Senior Analyst Johan Svanberg.
And all this ubiquitous connectivity is radically transforming CE products, says Tony King-Smith, vice president of marketing for UK-based Imagination Technologies, a global leader in multimedia and communication silicon technologies.
As King-Smith outlined in the January/February issue of Vision, the flagship publication of the Consumer Electronics Association, within four years, more than 70 percent of all mainstream CE products will be connected to the Internet; these technologies will not only drive the next wave of connectivity in all types of consumer products, but usher in a new era of mass market cloud connectivity.
“How all these devices connect together and how they will be controlled and managed will be one of the major challenges facing CE manufacturers in the years to come,” says King-Smith. “However, what is certain is that an increasing dialogue between devices will become the norm, with the cloud connecting all, storage being shared (and often not even in the home) and maybe even load balancing of process and storage across all your connected devices.”