The Internet of Things (IoT) reached the mainstream in 2017, with applications now evident across a wide range of sectors. Notably, we've witnessed the proliferation of the smart speaker, smart home companies refocusing their efforts on do-it-yourself (DIY) security systems, and several partnerships between big names in the enterprise IoT. Based on these developments, our proprietary research, and the trends we're watching headed into 2018, here are our top five predictions for the IoT in the year ahead: 

1. Google and others will follow Amazon and introduce a smart speaker with a screen. Last summer, Amazon launched the Echo Show, the first smart speaker to feature a screen. The screen proved to be a powerful differentiator, affording the Echo Show an advantage over Apple’s HomePod among consumers in BI Intelligence’s Tech Adoption surveys — 50% were somewhat or very excited for the screen-equipped device, compared with 43% for the HomePod. In 2018, we predict that Google, the e-commerce giant’s chief competitor in the US smart speaker market, will launch its own screen-equipped smart speaker to compete with Amazon's device. And other companies like Samsung, Facebook, and Baidu will probably follow suit, though Apple will likely eschew this direction to push potential users toward the iPad and Apple TV. Over time, we expect screens to be present on most flagship smart speakers, making the visual element an expected utility.

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2. More than 50 million new smart home devices will ship in the US alone in 2018. The market for smart home devices didn't take off as many projected it would in recent years. That's because these devices are often overpriced, difficult to set up, and part of a fragmented ecosystem that makes control a hassle. But the smart speaker has started to provide solutions to many of these problems, as it provides a ready-made hub and natural interface to let users control smart home devices. Amazon and Google make it simple [...]