Editor’s Note: This blog was originally published in March 2015. It has been updated to include the latest information.
The latest IoT Analytics State of IoT report shows that the number of global IoT connections grew 18% in 2022, to 14.3 billion active IoT endpoints. In 2023, IoT Analytics expects the global number of connected IoT devices to grow another 16%, to 16.7 billion active endpoints. While 2023 growth is forecast to be slightly lower than that of 2022, IoT device connections are expected to continue growing for many years to come.
IoT devices are used in all types of industry verticals and consumer markets, with the consumer segment accounting for around 60% of all IoT connected devices. This share is projected to stay at this level over the next ten years.
Industry verticals with more than 100 million connected IoT devices currently in use include utilities, retail and wholesale, transportation and storage, and government.
In the consumer segment, internet and media devices such as smartphones are most prevalent. The number of such devices is forecast to grow to more than 17 billion by 2030. 
Different perspectives on IoT
Taking a closer look, IoT can be seen from two different perspectives: an internet-centric perspective and a device-centric perspective. The internet-centric perspective focuses mainly on internet services, and how they move the data generated by the devices (“things.”) Since Equinix is at the heart of the interconnected digital world, we focus on the internet-centric view.
There are several factors that have powered the progression of the IoT within the digital economy, including:
- Higher demand for increasingly powerful mobile, wearable and connected devices
- Applications that fuel demand for mobile data and test the limits of networks within most industry sectors
- Workloads that rely on content stored in the cloud, which have grown alongside Platform as a Service offerings, mobile point-of-sale systems and independent software vendor platforms
- The mainstream adoption of data-intensive use cases such as smart manufacturing
Device evolution, cloud-based application innovation and the proliferation of communication technologies across industries have driven exponential growth in demand for connected devices, and we don’t expect that growth to slow anytime soon. To be successful with IoT, it’s increasingly important for enterprises to take the internet-centric perspective—to think about what they’re asking of their networks in this expanding era of connected devices.
IoT creates challenges for global networks
As connected devices continue to proliferate, and the expected throughput of each device increases, the capacity and performance challenges facing global networks will accelerate accordingly. To provide reliable results and a high-quality user experience across their IoT-enabled applications, enterprises need to ensure that their network infrastructure can deliver end-to-end latency in the single-digit millisecond range for all their machine-to-machine interactions.
In addition to pushing the limits of the network, IoT challenges include data privacy, participatory sensing, data analytics, system-based visualization, and cloud integration. Networks also face standard wireless sensor network issues, including architecture, energy efficiency, security, protocols, and quality of service.
The end goal of any IoT strategy should be to have plug-and-play smart objects that can be deployed in any environment with an interoperable interconnection backbone that allows them to blend with other smart objects around them. To achieve this goal, we’ll need to ensure standardization of frequency bands and protocols.
Equinix helps customers take a strategic, future-proof approach to IoT
Equinix Global Solutions Architects (GSAs) are experts that can help customers build the distributed digital infrastructure they need to overcome the challenges surrounding IoT—now and into the future.
We achieve this goal by helping our customers:
- Lower the total cost of ownership (TCO) for network services, bandwidth and manufacturing devices
- Increase the performance and efficiency of the end-to-end service chain and automation between consumer requests and billed services delivered via the latest SDN and NFV technologies
- Optimize environmental efficiencies including power availability/delivery to IoT platforms and devices
- Leverage network peering and interconnection platforms (Equinix Internet Exchange® and Equinix Fabric®) to quickly establish new revenue streams and gain access to existing markets
- Increase the core peering metro density in transport layer and switch/router fabrics to support the next generation of user demand and traffic growth
- Seek out hosting services at execution sites in close proximity to users and customers, and the end-to-end service chain of partners, service delivery organizations, clouds and wire/wireless networks
- Solve latency challenges with bandwidth, load balancing and proximity
VTM Group, a Dutch IT communications provider, worked with Equinix and our partner Tele2 IoT to get the secure, reliable, high-performance connectivity it needs to provide IoT solutions for customers in mission-critical industries.
“Low latency and high reliability are becoming more important in many different applications and industries. Equinix Fabric meets these high standards for delivering our IoT solutions to various services in the energy, water management, content streaming and emergency sectors. Together with Equinix and Tele2 IoT, we offer top class M2M solutions to our customers—from critical water management to high reliability emergency services.”
— René Broxterman, Business Consultant for IoT, VTM Services
Learn more about how distributed, interconnected digital infrastructure can help you capitalize on IoT and other emerging technologies: Read our Leader’s Guide to Digital Infrastructure.
 Lionel Sujay Vailshery, Number of IoT connected devices worldwide 2019-2023, with forecasts to 2030, Statista, July 27, 2023.