As the development of IoT gains traction, more and more connected devices are entering our lives, resulting in higher demand for efficient network devices as well as faster network connectivity.
The days of computers, laptops and smartphones being the only equipment connected to the Internet are behind us. In the days to come, more and more thermostats, cameras, light bulbs, vacuums, refrigerators, etc. will also connect to the Internet.
According to research institute Tractica’s estimates, smart home devices leveraging AI-powered UIs will grow from 43.7 million units in 2017 to more than 860 million in 2022. The development is going to require higher connection capacity to ensure smooth device operation.
Connected products tap AI to enhance services, especially in categories like smartphones, connected cars and smart home devices, said Steve Koenig, vice president of market research of Consumer Technology Association (CTA). “With 5G on our doorstep – the first 5G products will hit the market this year – we’re crossing into a new phase of faster and smarter connected devices.”
Making improvement on network equipment may also be a viable business opportunity, according to Stephen Baker, vice president of industry advisor for The NPD Group, a market research company.
Baker said while many new households will explore the smart home experience in the next two years, the biggest and best opportunity for retail may remain in encouraging the installed smart home base to make incremental device purchases, and to provide services to help consumers fully leverage the technology in their smart home. “For example, upgrades in networking equipment are a crucial incremental sales opportunity. As the number of connected devices on the home network increase, consumers will come to the realization that they need better equipment to support those devices.”
Mesh Wi-Fi Networks
The rise of home automation devices, alongside usage of smartphones, tablets, computers, streaming media players, and gaming consoles, is overtaxing wireless network capabilities in many homes.
As a solution, U.S. consumers are upgrading to Mesh Wi-Fi networks, driving a sharp uptick in sales. According to the Future of Tech report published by NPD Group, U.S. mesh networking sales are expected to see an 88% U.S. dollar growth from 2017 to 2019. In fact, by 2019, about half of every dollar spent in the consumer networking category will be on Mesh Wi-Fi.
Known as mesh networks, devices such as the eero Home Wi-Fi system, Google Wi-Fi or Netgear Orbi, are experiencing substantial growth due to their simple home network set-up and ability to provide strong internet coverage throughout the home. These devices will cross the US$1 billion revenue milestone for the first time in 2018 (103% increase) and sell 4.3 million units (115% increase), according to CTA.
Increase in speed has been, in fact, ongoing. Broadband speeds in the U.S. reportedly increased nearly 60% from 2015 to 2017. In addition, CTA says energy efficiency in small network equipment has even been achieved as consumers demand increasingly robust equipment to support higher-speed services, better Wi-Fi strength and more Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
One in Five Plans to Buy Smart Device
NPD Group says sales of voice-activated speakers will add an incremental US$1.6 billion to the U.S. technology industry through 2019, as these devices are leveraged both as an interface to smart home services and as digital assistants.
Alongside voice-activated speakers, sales of home automation devices will add an additional US$1.7 billion to the technology industry through 2019, with 19% of consumers planning to purchase a device in the next 12 months.