In 2011, Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) released a report stating that there were 12.5 Billion devices connected to the internet in 2010, exceeding the world population (6.8 Billion) for the first time. Cisco also forecasted that “there will be 25 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2015 and 50 billion by 2020″ .
News outlets sensationalized this, taking the finding out of context. Even Cisco’s drew the wild conclusion, “we know that approximately 2 billion people use the Internet today. Using this figure, the number of connected devices per person jumps to 6.25 in 2010, instead of 1.84″ .
These claims are fallacies of misplaced correctness, and just ridiculous so lets put it into context.
Before analyzing it logically, lets analyze it anecdotally, using common sense. I’m a technologically savvy individual and I have 1 Desktop + 1 Laptop + 1 SmartPhone + 1 Tablet + 1 Work Computer = 5 Internet Connected Devices. I know that I have more devices than most, so there is no way that the average person had 6.25 Internet-connected devices in 2010. And, if the percentage of the population to use the Internet grows to 100% in 2015 (best-case), that would mean that the average person has 3.47 devices . I really can’t picture the average person in a 3rd world country having as many as 3-4 Internet-connected devices by 2015.
Now lets investigate the cause of this fallacy. This finding describes the number of devices connected to the internet not the number of people. Both Cisco and the media are guilty of drawing conclusions from this data without considering the context, and are dead wrong in their predictions. They are taking “devices” to exclusively mean “personal devices” when really it encompasses:
- Personal Computers,
- Work Computers,
- iPods, and notably,
- Computer Servers
Google Inc., among other companies, has a larger server farm which contributes to the number of Internet connected devices. There are so many “devices” in the world that are not “personal devices” that conclusions cannot simply be drawn through dividing the number of “devices” by the world population.
I’m surprised by the lack of critical thinking on behalf of Cisco; they are supposed to be trend setters and reliable guides of the Internet of Things and this has made me seriously doubt their credibility.
If you plan to build a business-model on these future predictions, think critically, and think twice.
 Evans, D. (2011). The Internet of Things. Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group. Retrieved from http://www.cisco.com/web/about/ac79/docs/innov/IoT_IBSG_0411FINAL.pdf
 The World Bank Group. (2012). Internet users. The World Bank. Retrieved June 10, 2012, from http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/IT.NET.USER/countries/1W