How much is the Internet of everything worth? Cisco says $19 trillion

The Internet of everything will have five to 10 times the impact on society as the Internet itself, says Cisco CEO John Chambers.

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Roger Cheng (he/him/his) was the executive editor in charge of CNET News, managing everything from daily breaking news to in-depth investigative packages. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade and got his start writing and laying out pages at a local paper in Southern California. He's a devoted Trojan alum and thinks sleep is the perfect -- if unattainable -- hobby for a parent.
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Roger Cheng
2 min read
Cisco CEO John Chambers speaks at Mobile World Congress while the moderator snaps a quick photo. Roger Cheng/CNET

BARCELONA, Spain -- Are you curious why everyone is talking about the Internet of everything? Cisco CEO John Chambers gives 19 trillion really good reasons.

Chambers believes the Internet of everything, also known as the Internet of things, will create $19 trillion (yes, that's with a "t") in economic benefit and value over the next decade.

The Internet of things is the concept that any device that could use an Internet connection should get one, allowing it to talk with other devices on the network. It's widely believed to be the next catalyst for innovation in the tech world, with seemingly every major player looking at ways to connect more products together.

The idea is that your car can tell your home that you're five minutes away, which triggers your thermostat to shift to your preferred temperature. Connections range from something as small as a dog collar to a fully connected home or car. Google spent $3.2 billion to acquire smart thermostat and smoke detector company Nest to get deeper into this year.

Speaking at the Mobile World Congress trade show, Chambers said that the Internet of things will potentially have five to ten times the impact on society over the Internet itself.

As an illustration of the growth of connected devices, Chambers noted that there were only 1,000 devices connected to the Internet when Cisco was created in 1984. There were more than 10 billion connected devices in 2010, and they outnumber the actual number of people now. By 2020, Chambers said he expects to see 50 billion devices connected to the Internet.

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Interest in this area is at an all time high. Chambers quipped that he used to have to buy people drinks when he wanted to talk about the Internet of things. Now, companies take him out for dinner and are asking him for information in this area.

In a prior address at the Consumer Electronics Show last month, Chambers said 2014 will be seen as a tipping point for the Internet of things, with more devices getting a connection and more of a willingness to pull things together. He added that his assessment was largely based on what his customers, who range from big businesses to the telecommunications companies, are telling him.

The changes are coming. He praised Barcelona's decision to move toward a smart-city architecture, and added that Israel has transformed itself into a smart country. He also gave a shout-out to AT&T's Digital Life service, which provides security, monitoring, and other smart home enhancements to consumers in select US cities.

This move to the Internet of things and the need for constant connection puts the service providers in a place where they can be the top IT player in both the home and the office.