A Planet of Connected Devices

Earlier this morning, while swapping my computer bags, I had one of those moments when the future flashes right in front of your eyes.

On the table were a cornucopia of devices. I had a Kindle (s amzn), iPad (3G) (s aapl), Lumix GF-1 with Eye-Wi, a Sprint Overdrive (MeFi), an Apple iPhone, an Android-powered (s goog) HTC Droid from Verizon (s vz), my trusted old and beat up BlackBerry Bold (s rimm) (from T-Mobile) and my Macbook Air. They all are connected to the Internet — at any given time.

These connected devices are the tip of the iceberg. Yesterday, Stacey wrote about the dawn of the age of the Internet of Things, pointing to the furious pace at which carriers are adding connected mobile devices: 2.6 million in U.S. alone during the last quarter. There are 20 million connected devices (and more than a single person’s share of them are in my bag) in the U.S., but that may change soon.

Ericsson (s eric), a company which makes radios and other gear for wireless networks, predicts that there will be 50 billion connected devices by 2020.

From iPads to Kindles to connected microwaves and Internet-enabled televisions, any device that lacks a connection will indeed be deemed dumb in the future. These new connected devices are going to open up massive opportunities, and even bigger challenges, in the coming years.

To give you some context of the kind of wireless infrastructure we might need, here’s a statistic: it took Ericsson 20 years to see the first million radio base stations. The next million have come within three years.

With LTE, WiMAX and other networks popping up at breath-taking speed, it’s not hard to imagine more demand for the wireless backhaul gear, regardless of who makes it — Ericsson, Nokia (s nok), Siemens (s si), or the Chinese giants, Huawei and ZTE. Incidentally, the major impact of this shift is one of the major themes at our upcoming conference, Mobilize 2010, scheduled to be held in San Francisco on September 30, 2010.

Meanwhile, I’m back to musing about what devices I should leave at home and what I should carry?

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

The Internet of Things: What It Is, Why It Matters

Enjoy this TED Video of Kevin Kelly talking about the next 5,000 days of the web (circa 2008)