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Android Will Extend Dominance over All Devices Through 2014

Taking into account all end-user computing devices — traditional PCs, smart phones, and tablets — Google's Android is already by far the most dominant single operating system out there. In 2012, Android devices made up more than 22 percent off all device shipments worldwide. According to market research firm Gartner, its share will nearly double by the end of 2014.

Operating Systems: 2012–2014
According to Gartner, in 2012, some 505.5 million Android devices shipped throughout the world. That compares with 346.5 million Windows devices, 212.9 million iOS and OS X devices (combined), 34.6 million BlackBerry devices, and 1.12 billion various others.

The number of devices shipped in 2012 totaled about 2.22 billion, with Android devices making up 22.8 percent of that number.

This year, according to Gartner's forecast, that situation will become even more exaggerated as Android pushes more than 300 million units upward and Windows contracts by several million units.

According to the forecast, the total number of Android devices shipped in 2013 will be 866.8 million. iOS/OS X devices will also climb, reaching 296.3 million units. But Windows and BlackBerry will decline. Windows devices shipments are expected to fall to 339.5 million, while BlackBerry sinks down to 25.2 million. 2013 will also mark the first year Android will pass all others combined, which will decline to 820.6 million units.

All told, in 2013, Gartner forecast 2.35 billion unit shipments worldwide, an increase of 5.9 percent from 2012. Of the worldwide total, Android will make up 36.9 percent.

By next year, Android devices will break through the billion-unit barrier, at about 1.06 billion units. Apple's iOS and OS X devices will also have continued their upward climb, reaching 354.8 million units. Gartner also predicted that Microsoft would rebound in 2014, with 378.1 million units shipped. Gartner predicted a continued drop for BlackBerry to 22.3 million units. All other devices combined will total 689.9 million units.

So for 2014, combined worldwide device shipments will reach 2.5 billion, up about 6.7 percent from this year's forecast total. Android will own about 42.3 percent of that total.

"Although the numbers seem to paint a clear picture of who the winner will be when it comes to operating systems (OS) in the device market, the reality is that today ecosystem owners are challenged in having the same relevance in all segments," said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner, in a prepared statement. "Apple is currently the more homogeneous presence across all device segments, while 90 percent of Android sales are currently in the mobile phone market and 85 percent of Microsoft sales are in the PC market."

Device Trends: 2012–2014
Overall, devices are forecast to grow at single-digit rates through 2014. However, desktop and notebook PCs are expected to decline by double digits — from 341.3 million in 2012 to 305.2 million this year to 289.2 million next year.

Gartner is continuing to forecast a brighter future for ultramobiles, which include ultrabooks, chromebooks, and "slate and hybrid devices running Windows 8." In 2012, about 9.8 million ultramobiles shipped. Gartner said that will more than double to 20.3 million this year and nearly double again in 2014 to 39.8 million.

Tablets, meanwhile, will continue to catch up to desktop and notebook PCs. In 2012, 120.2 million tablets shipped worldwide. Gartner is forecasting that to reach 201.8 million this year and 276.2 million next year, putting tablets within 13 million units of PC sales.

Mobile phones, which currently make up 90 percent of Android shipments, will not quite reach 2 billion units by 2014, according to the current forecast. In 2012, 1.75 billion mobile phones shipped worldwide. In 2013, that will grow to 1.82 billion. And by 2014, mobile phone shipments will reach 1.9 billion.

"The increased availability of lower priced basic tablets, plus the value add shifting to software rather than hardware will result in the lifetimes of premium tablets extending as they remain active in the household for longer. We will also see consumer preferences split between basic tablets and ultramobile devices," said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. "With mobile phones, volume expectations for 2013 have been brought down as the life cycles lengthen as consumers wait for new models and lower prices to hit the market in the Fall and holiday season. The challenge in the smartphone market is also that, as penetration moves more and more to the mass market, price points are lowering and in most cases so do margins."

The complete report, "Forecast: Devices by Operating System and User Type, Worldwide, 2010-2017, 2Q13 Update," is available on Gartner's site for a fee.

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at .

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