How many devices do you own? A smartphone, tablet, and laptop? A desktop, MP3 player, and TV? An Xbox, PS3, or Kinect? According to recent research, the average person now owns five devices that connect to the Internet, with some owning as many as 15. Additional research indicates that there are currently more connected devices in the world than the world population- and connected device ownership is only expected to outpace population projections at a continuously wider margin. Just how fast is connected device ownership growing?
The International Telecommunications Union predicts in the latest “State of Broadband” report that the number of connected devices will reach 25 billion by 2020– more than double the 10 billion in 2011. And during every 60 seconds in 2011, 710 computers were sold (555 of them with Intel chips!), 925 iPhone 4S were sold, and 38 tons of e-waste was generated. But how did we get to a world in which devices outnumber people?
Over the past 30 years, there has been a rapid increase in technological innovation, which has led to two significant developments: a sharp reduction in ownership costs coupled with a sharp increase in power. Together, these factors have led to a proliferation of devices.
Looking at the drop in cost for popular electronics, when personal computers, digital TVs, and cell phones were first introduced, it was cost-prohibitive for the majority of the population to own these respective devices. In 1980, less than 1% of households owned a personal computer, and the average price was a whopping $2,655. Fast-forward 30 years, and now 87% of households own a personal computer, and the average price has dropped to a mere $544. Looking at a more accelerated time-line, the average price for a digital TV fell 86% in just 12 short years (1998-2010), and the price for a standard cell phone dropped from $4212 in 1984 to a paltry $84 in 2010.
So while different devices offer unique benefits – screen real estate, interface and form factor to name a few – what if, instead of cluttering our lives with multiple connected devices, we were to own just one or two, converged, powerful ‘do-it-all’ devices? The next generation of devices look to streamline how we access the internet, play games, and take phone calls. Instead of owning a laptop and a tablet, we will be able to own one device that can be used as both- without sacrificing style, power, or accessibility.
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