Google has another reason to celebrate. For the first time, the number of Android-run smartphones shipped around the world hit the 1 billion mark in 2014, settling in nicely at 1.3 billion units in total. This was revealed by researcher Strategy Analytics just recently.
Exceeding the 1 billion mark is not only a big milestone, but also a very significant improvement over the previous year's numbers. Back in 2013, there were a total 780.8 million units of Android smartphones shipped to the global market.
In case Apple fans are wondering how well iOS fared in -- well, there were 192.7 million iOS devices shipped around the world last year.
Strategy Analytics' revelation more or less confirmed what everybody already knows about the global smartphone market -- it is basically a head-to-head battle just between Google and Apple.
But if one looks closely, Android has a big advantage, at least in terms of raw numbers. Sure, iOS devices command a 15 percent market share worldwide. But Google's Android mobile operating system is just too popular. Obviously, the Android OS is less exclusive compared to iOS, which mostly runs on Apple devices only. Indeed, so many diverse phone brands are powered by Android, which also means that the platform is better distributed across different kinds of mobile devices in different mobile markets.
But when Strategy Analytics team broke down the global smartphone market by brand, they found out that Apple's market share bulked up to 20 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014, on part with Samsung, which is the leader producing Android-run mobile devices. And while Samsung's share has dropped from 30 percent in the same quarter the previous year, Apple's share is on the rise.
But taking all Android smartphones into account, 1.3 billion units shipped worldwide is definitely a big deal. So is the 30 percent improvement compared to last year's figures. And even if Samsung is struggling, Android gets a boost from Chinese phone makers (such as Lenovo and Xiaomi) who sold a lot of budget-friendly Android smartphones last year, especially in emerging markets in Asian regions.
As for Microsoft's Windows Phone? It got 3 percent share of the global smartphone market. That is roughly equivalent to almost 39 million units sold. It is safe to say then that for 2015, it is still essentially a race between the Android and iOS platforms.
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