Android to overtake Windows... if you count smartphones

Analyst firm has suggested Android will be on more computing devices than Windows within four years

Reuters Nicole Kobie
24 Oct 2012

Google's Android will be used on more computing devices than Microsoft's Windows within four years, data from research firm Gartner shows.

However, the stat assumes that smartphones and tablets are grouped together with more traditional computers.

At the end of 2016, there will be 2.3 billion computers, tablets and smartphones using Android software, compared with 2.28 billion Windows devices, Gartner data showed.

That compares to an expected 1.5 billion Windows devices by the end of this year, against 608 million using Android.

The prediction takes a similar outlook to another analyst firm, Forrester, which this week pointed out that if smartphones, tablets and computers are all lumped together Microsoft only has a third of the "personal devices" market, alongside Android and Apple's iOS.

Analyst Frank Gillett argued Microsoft can't reclaim its dominance over the area, but likely won't lose its third of the market in the next few years, as Windows 8 will help it make up for stalling PC sales.

"Microsoft has long dominated PC units, with something more than 95% sales. The incremental gains of Apple’s Mac products over the past five years haven’t really changed that reality," he notes in a blog post. "But the tremendous growth of smartphones, and then tablets, has. If you combine all the unit sales of personal devices, Microsoft’s share of units has shrunk drastically to about 30% in 2012."

Android, which reached the market only in 2008, has risen fast to be the dominant smartphone platform, controlling two-thirds of that market. It has taken the number two spot in the fast-growing tablet computer market, after Apple.

Meanwhile, worldwide shipments of personal computers fell by over 8% in the third quarter, the steepest decline since 2001, as more consumers flock to tablets and smartphones for more basic computing.

Microsoft's Windows has dominated the personal computer industry for decades, but the company has struggled to keep up with the shift to wireless, and in smartphones its market share is around 3%.

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