COVID-19 forces 18% haircut on IoT device forecast

Internet of Things devices used for remote monitoring in truck fleets will be hard hit by COVID-19 as companies scramble to cut costs. (Rich Legg/Getty Images)

ABI Research recently forecast an 18% decline in new Internet of Things devices deployed for all of 2020 thanks to COVID-19.

The combination of manufacturing shutdowns, supply chain interruptions and changes to connected product availability and demand are the main reasons for the decline, the research firm said.

Some applications will see overall shipment declines while some will see a temporary stall and others will experience “fundamental shifts in demand, both positive and negative, for years to come as consumer and enterprise priorities shift in light of COVID-19,” Jamie Moss, research director for IoT at ABI, said in a statement.

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The 18% drop in new IoT devices equates to 66 million potential Wide Area Network connections compared to prior forecasts, with the biggest impact on vehicle fleets and other heavy vehicles and equipment, ABI said.  Enterprises are buying less to contain costs. 

Early in 2020, ABI forecast the total installed base of IoT connections globally would reach 1.97 billion IoT connections, which ABI lowered in May to 1.91 billion.  The earlier forecast increase was expected to be 36 million new IoT connections on fixed and wireless networks for 2020, which was revised downward in May to 29 million new connections, a difference of 18%..

In addition to vehicles, fixed assets, digital signs and kiosks will be impacted by the decline because they are driven by the hard-hit retail and entertainment sectors,  ABI said.

Some smart home revenues are expected to be boosted as people have sheltered in place. Smart utility metering projects have temporarily slowed, but are expected to bounce back. Asset tracking and inventory management and monitoring will see long-term investments to allow people to run things remotely, ABI said.

Moss endorsed the mass usage of microcontroller unit (MCU) -based  low power wide area sensors LPWA to help make it easier to respond to threats for a safer world. “The need for guaranteed outcomes has never been more acute than now,” he said. ABI provides analysis of 32 IoT applications and 32 different connected and embedded devices.

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