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Packed By Weight, not by Volume: (Re)Defining Internet-of-Things from a Device Count Perspective

Posted by Norman Miglietta on 01/14/2013

This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is behind us, but it seems we’re only in the beginning stages of a newfound hype cycle around the Internet-of-Things. Ten companies used the venue to launch an Internet-of-Things Consortium, whose mission is to allow connected devices, products and services to work better together.

Meanwhile, our own Alex Brisbourne joined a CES panel to investigate M2M business models and standard-setting approaches for now and the future. Never has the cross-over between M2M and the Internet-of-Things been more apparent.

That being said, in this post I’d mainly like to congratulate Rob Soderbery (@Soderbery)—an SVP for Unified Access at our business partner Cisco—for having Forbes.com publish his well-thought perspective about Internet-of-Things devices. Perhaps most interestingly, he asks readers to take a good step back and consider what even constitutes an individual “thing” on the Internet: “…some of the things out there look a lot like computers – is an industrial computer in a factory a thing (maybe), how about a micro-controller in a sensor (definitely)?”

In so doing, Soderbery mirrors what we’ve been saying for some time now, namely that projections of more than of 50 billion “things” coming online by 2020 are a bit overblown. We both are very bullish on the near-term possibilities for connected devices to be sure, but Soderbery provides some explanation for why initially projected numbers can, and probably should, be revised down.

“If you use the broad definition of things – just excluding the obvious computer, mobile devices, and so on – then less than a third of the total number of devices are things, with most of those being consumer, industrial, medical, or military.”

(Emphasis mine).

Soderbery also makes a very important distinction between fixed and mobile connections. Many of the objects that get lumped into the Internet-of-Things tend to be static and stationary, and probably connect via nothing more than a local Wi-Fi network or hardwired ethernet port (think, connected appliances in the home). So what happens when you make the IoT mobile, such as for tracking produce from farm to grocery store? The discussion in this instance should not focus on “how many” devices are out there, but rather on “how well can they connect from wherever they are?” And, once they connect, what types – and amounts – of data will they be transmitting, and for what purpose?

In other words, connectivity must be the conversation starter when it comes to the evolving IoT. Connections get the gravitas because devices aren’t going to do any good if they run into a dead zone. They must be protected in the sense that they are secure, and I am optimistic given that a leader in device security such as Cisco is in the fray.

These are the issues that KORE helps Internet-of-Things stakeholders think through, and we believe such connectivity decisions will ultimately influence the type and volume of applications to come online over the next several years.

By Stein Soelberg, Director of Marketing

Follow Stein on Twitter: @sesoelberg

Stein leads a team whose responsibility is to own the branding, advertising, customer engagement, loyalty, partnership and public relations initiatives designed to propel KORE into the 21st century. With over 15 years of technology marketing experience in the business to business software, Internet services and telecommunications industries, Stein brings a proven track record of launching successful MVNOs and building those brands into leaders.