75 billion.

That's the holy-@$#! number of devices that Morgan Stanley has extrapolated from a Cisco report that details how many devices will be connected to the Internet of Things by 2020. That's 9.4 devices for every one of the 8 billion people that's expected to be around in seven years.

To help put that into more perspective, back in Cisco also came out with the number of devices it thinks were connected to the Internet in 2012, a number Cisco's Rob Soderbery placed at 8.7 billion. Most of the devices at the time, he acknowledged were the PCs, laptops, tablets and phones in the world. But other types of devices will soon dominate the collection of the Internet of Things, such as sensors and actuators. 

By the end of the decade, a nearly nine-fold increase in the volume of devices on the Internet of Things will mean a lot of infrastructure investment and market opportunities will available in this sector. And by "a lot," I mean ginourmous. In an interview with Barron's, Cisco CEO John Chambers figures that will translate to a $14-trillion industry.

Granted, Cisco has a lot of reasons to be bullish about the prospect of the Internet of Things: with product offerings in the router and switch space and a recent keen interest on building intelligent routing and application platforms right inside those devices, Cisco stands to gain a lot of business if it can get itself out in front of this newfangled Internet of Things.

It's not just Cisco talking up the Internet of Things: late last week, Morgan Stanley published a big 29-page research note on the topic that sought to at once define the Internet of Things and also quantify its size, growth and potential to make money.

In her blog, Cisco VP of Corporate Communications Karen Tillman actually put Cisco's estimate at 50 billion devices by the end of the decade. Morgan Stanley took Cisco's data and predicted an even higher 75 billion figure.

"Cisco estimates that only 200 million things were connected in 2000. Extrapolating the same growth rate up until 2020, this could mean that 75 billion things could be connected by then," Morgan Stanley's report said.

Morgan Stanley's brief was bullish as a whole, though it did deliver expectations from other companies that weren't quite so high as Cisco's: "Intel (INTC) forecasts that the Internet of Things will represent a 3.8-billion device opportunity by 2015 (including mobile computing i.e., tablets, smartphones…) and ABI research forecasts that number will reach 30 billion by 2020."

Who wins if any of these scenarios takes place? Semiconductor, network, remote sensor and big data vendors will be the lottery winners of such Internet of Things growth, to name a very few. Big data especially: 75 billion devices all generating signals of data to be analyzed and measured, many of which in real- or near-realtime? That's got big data written all over it.

And the ceiling is nowhere near being approached. Right now, the Morgan Stanley note estimates that there are potentially 200 devices for each person in the world that could be connected to Internet of Things. Economics and consolidation will most likely keep us from ever seeing that many devices connected to the Internet of Things, but the room for growth is still massive in these early days.

 

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