SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son has high hopes for the burgeoning internet-of-things movement.
“Each individual, on average, will have more than 1,000 devices that are connected to the internet by 2040,” he told the audience at SoftBank World yesterday. “There will be no devices that aren’t connected.”
In Son’s world, the living room chair of the future will no longer be a simple piece of furniture. It will be a healthcare device, full of sensors that capture health-related data. Based on those readings, it will communicate with your refrigerator, which will then recommend what food to eat. The chair will share data with your shoes to determine if you’ve got a healthy balance between resting and moving around.
For those inclined to balk at Son’s prediction, he points to the history of smartphone adoption in Japan.
“I said that smartphones would dominate the world,” he explained. “Everyone told me, ‘we have NFC, we have IC chips […] in Japanese feature phones. The smartphone will never catch on here.’”
Son’s insistence on bringing the iPhone to Japan – a deal he struck with Steve Jobs personally, while the device was still in development – is what turned the firm into a global internet and telecommunications giant. He said that the decision to acquire Vodafone Japan for US$15 billion in 2006was made only after Jobs promised to provide the iPhone exclusively to SoftBank.
“In less than 10 years, we’ve seen the world realize that [the smartphone] would change the lives of people,” he added.
Even if IoT booms and the cost of such connected devices decreases drastically, it’s hard to imagine a world where everyone can afford to own1,000 devices – or 1,000 anything. Son’s vision of a global “information revolution” (see video below, which was also screened at the event) is deeply rooted in equal access to information, but unequal access toopportunity is unlikely to change within the next 30 years.