Cisco Systems (CSCO) bought a 12-year-old startup Wednesday called Jasper Technologies which is involved in something called the Internet of things. I think this is a perfectly good time to predict the end of the expression the Internet of things.
Permit me to explain. Jasper is a Silicon Valley company that makes a platform for wirelessly connecting devices such as cars and vending machines with those who service them. This is a natural fit for Cisco, which for decades has been the industry leader in equipment that connects machines and networks to the Internet. The “things” part of the faddish marketing slogan is a wink that it’s not just computers and telecommunications networks that are being connected anymore. Rather, any device in which a sensor can be embedded can now be connected.
The opportunities are mind-boggling, from remote temperature control to automatic detergent replenishment. Eventually what product-management types call “use cases” will even become meaningful and important.
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Cisco and plenty of others take all this quite seriously. It is paying $1.4 billion for Jasper, even though the company’s revenues are said to be only around $300 million. As well, Jasper competes against Ericsson (ERICCSON), Cisco’s new partner. A story for another day is why Jasper is selling for an amount equal to its latest private-market funding round, suggesting a return of about nothing for its most recent investors.
So if all this is so great, why do I predict—and not for the first time—doom for the sloganeering around this trend? My hunch is that devices connected wirelessly by sensors will shortly become so pervasive as to become commonplace and therefore no longer in need of differentiated messaging. There’s just one Internet, a vague term to begin with, and everything is connected to it.