Source: IDC Market Research

How can you not click through when you see this headline? “IDC: nearly 1 billion ‘smart connected devices’ shipped last year”  Courtesy of this post on Engadget.

According to the IDC Research press release, 916 million units of smart devices (PCs, Tablets, Smartphones) shipped in 2011.  1.1 billion will ship in 2012, and “by 2016, IDC predicts shipments will reach 1.84 billion units, more than double the 2011 figure, as consumers and business of all shapes and sizes around the world are showing a nearly insatiable appetite for smart connected devices.”

Source: Seagate Market Research

Curiosity drove me to look at the growth curve for storage devices. What I found from Seagate Market Research: it will be around the year 2020 when the demand for storage devices is predicted to eclipse 1 Billion units. Looking back a couple years, IDC indicates (in the chart) that around 700M connected devices shipped, while Seagate’s numbers indicate close to the same number (~700 Million) of storage devices (HDD + SSD) shipped  – a one to one ratio.  If you believe IDC’s numbers, over the course of the next 2-4 years, we will see the ratio of the number of smart devices to the number of storage devices shift to more than 2:1, and by 2020, it could be close to 3:1 if smart devices reach 3 Billion which really is not that surprising considering many people own at least a PC and a smartphone, with a growing number buying tablets.

At first glance, I wondered if this gap indicated some kind of weakening demand for storage, but the opposite is true; this proves to be an exciting decade for storage – why?

Because storage is becoming a connected device itself.

Think about it. The demand for content is not slowing, nor is the growth of data.  The way we use our data, or enjoy our content is what is driving the gap in shipments of storage devices and connected devices. But, what’s more obvious is the fact that in order for connected devices to continue to grow in shipments, they need connected storage.

Connected storage in the form of:

And it doesn’t stop at IDC’s definition of connected devices (PCs, smartphones, and tablets).  Now factor in the rest of the connected devices we have, all needing access to connected storage. Five years ago, you may have had one to maybe three “connected” devices or gadgets. For me, it was a PC, a Blackberry, and an Xbox. Today, I have an iMac, Macbook, iPhone, Wii, Xbox, Sony Blu-ray player, and Media player…that’s seven devices. Throw in e-readers and some of you might have close to 10.

So, besides fulfilling my curiosity, studying how connected devices are quickly outpacing storage devices revealed to me that demand for content on the pull side only keeps going up.  It’s all good, and quite frankly, being in an industry that will ship 1 Billion devices by the year 2020 is exciting.  I’m glad I’ll be around.

So how connected are you…what’s your connected device count?

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