Android set to reach one billion users in 2014

Google’s mobile operating system will be in the hands of one billion users before the year is out, according to new figures from Gartner

The Android mobile operating system will have one billion users by the end of 2014, according to a new report from Gartner.

The analyst firm claimed 2.5 billion devices, including tablets, smartphones and laptops, would be sold over the year – a rise of 7.6% from 2013 – meaning 40% of all shipped mobile devices will run the Google software.

Android-based devices have boomed in sales over the past three years, rising from just over 500 million in 2012 to almost 878 million in 2013. Alongside the prediction of breaking the one billion mark in 2014, Gartner has said it expects the number to rocket past 1.25 billion in 2015, showing no slowdown for the mobile operating system.

Its closest competitor was Microsoft Windows, present on 327 million devices last year but only expected to rise to under 360 million in 2014. In third place came Apple with its Mac OS and iOS mobile version, but again the numbers paled in comparison, with Android reaching 266 million in 2013 and expecting to hit 344 million devices this year.

Despite its US origins, it is the emerging markets bringing the growth to Google, according to Gartner, with the analyst firm claiming that more than 75% of all devices shipped with the system will come from these countries by 2017.

"There is no doubt that there is a volume versus value equation, with Android users also buying lower-cost devices compared to Apple users,” said Annette Zimmerman, principal analyst at Gartner.

“But Android holds the largest number of installed-base devices, with 1.9 billion in use in 2014, compared with 682 million iOS/Mac OS installed-base devices.”

Mobile phones are still expected to be the dominant device, accounting for just under 1.9 billion of all the shipments, but Gartner claimed the “ultramobile” market – namely tablets and hybrid laptops – would take over as the main driver, growing by 54% in the next 12 months.

The tablet market alone is predicted to rocket by 47% this year thanks to lower prices tempting new users to buy. But they are still considered the additional device to users’ laptops or phones, rather than the primary.

The news is not so good for traditional PCs, however, with a 7% decline in sales forecasted for this year, bringing the figure down to 278 million.

"The device market continues to evolve, with buyers deciding which combination of devices is required to meet their wants and needs,” said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. “Mobile phones are a must have and will continue to grow but at a slower pace, with opportunities moving away from the top-end premium devices to mid-end basic products.

"Meanwhile users continue to move away from the traditional PC (notebooks and desk-based) as it becomes more of a shared content creation tool, while the greater flexibility of tablets, hybrids and lighter notebooks address users' increasingly different demands.”

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