Android OS to Exceed a Billion Devices Sometime This Year

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Devices based on the Android OS are on pace to surpass one billion users across all devices in 2014 according to Gartner. In addition by 2017 over 75 percent of Android's volumes will come from emerging markets.

For this year though, worldwide combined shipments of all mobile devices (PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones) are projected to reach 2.5 billion units, a 7.6 percent increase from 2013.

"The device market continues to evolve, with buyers deciding which combination of devices is required to meet their wants and needs. 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," said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. "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."

Mobile phones are expected to dominate overall device shipments, with 1.9 billion mobile phones shipped in 2014, a five percent increase from 2013. Ultramobiles, which include tablets, hybrids and clamshells, will take over as the main driver of growth in the devices market from 2014, with a growth rate of 54 percent.

"Complimentary smaller tablets will take over from the larger tablet form factors, providing the added mobility that consumers desire at a lower cost and will compete with hybrids for consumer attention," said Mr. Atwal.

Worldwide Device Shipments by Segment

(Thousands of Units)

Device Type 2012 2013 2014 2015
PC (Desk-Based and Notebook) 341,273 299,342 277,939 268,491
Tablet (Ultramobile) 119,529 179,531 263,450 324,565
Mobile Phone 1,746,177 1,804,334 1,893,425 1,964,788
Other Ultramobiles (Hybrid and Clamshell) 9,344 17,195 39,636 63,835
Total 2,216,322 2,300,402 2,474,451 2,621,678

Source: Gartner (December 2013)

In 2014, the worldwide tablet market is forecast to grow 47 percent with lower average selling prices attracting new users. Consumers continue to buy tablets as an additional device that they carry everywhere. According to a recent consumer study that Gartner conducted in the third quarter of 2013 across Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, the U.K., the U.S. and Japan, over two-thirds of tablets were used outside the home for activities such as vacation or concert. This is a similar pattern to that of smartphones as smaller form factors are driving more portability outside the home.

Worldwide shipments of traditional PCs are forecast to total 278 million units in 2014, a seven percent decline from 2013. Driven by an uptake in Windows ultramobiles, the PC market is estimated to remain flat in 2014 (0.2 percent), after a decline of 9.9 percent in 2013. The Gartner consumer survey showed that less than eight per cent of users would replace their laptop with a tablet, while a transfer to an Ultrabook is almost twice this figure.

In the OS market, Android continues to be the OS of choice across all devices (see Table 2). Gartner estimates that Android will reach 1.1 billion users in 2014, a 26 percent increase from 2013. "There is no doubt that there is a volume versus value equation, with Android users also purchasing lower-cost devices compared to Apple users. 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," said Annette Zimmerman, principal analyst at Gartner.

Device Shipments by Operating System

(Thousands of Units)

Operating System 2012 2013 2014 2015
Android 503,690 877,885 1,102,572 1,254,367
Windows 346,272 327,956 359,855 422,726
iOS/Mac OS 213,690 266,769 344,206 397,234
RIM 34,581 24,019 15,416 10,597
Chrome 185 1,841 4,793 8,000
Others 1,117,905 801,932 647,572 528,755
Total 2,216,322 2,300,402 2,474,414 2,621,678

Source: Gartner (December 2013)

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