Yesterday’s Google event threw out a lot of facts and figures that could have easily been missed if you were distracted at any moment during the 1 hour plus presentation. If you haven’t had a chance to view it by-the-way, you can do so here. One interesting number that was thrown out yesterday is actually very telling about where the personal computing industry is today. Google announced yesterday that there are 1.4 billion active Android users in the world today with a new 400 million active users added since May of last year. That figure is important because it is only 100 million shy of the once all dominant Windows platform.
Paul Thurrott has some great insights on this over at his site if you want to research this a bit more.
So for some perspective, 1.4 billion Android users is more than iOS users by about half-a-billion based on the number of iOS devices sold (not apples-to-apples (pardon the pun) but the best figure I could find in my research). By Microsoft’s own figures, they have 1.5 billion active Windows users in their ecosystem. That’s a lot but Windows has been around for 30 years. Android? 7 years. In fact, if you want to look at another Microsoft product, Office, Android has already passed that user count (1.2b for Office).
Microsoft Windows has been the dominant ecosystem for 25 years and for them to be upended is big news. Yes I get it, there is a bit of apples-to-oranges comparison going on so you have to be a little careful looking at these numbers. One was born on the desktop while one was born in a mobile frenzied world. But the fact remains on pure numbers of users of an platform/ecosystem, Android is going to pass Windows and do it soon.
With Google continuing to push into emerging markets, places where people do not nor ever will have a PC, the speed by which Android will pass Windows will likely only accelerate. One thing that is for sure is that Windows isn’t going to be going away any time soon. Microsoft has a well established customer base, particularly in the enterprise space, where Android will be and has been adopted along side Windows.
Finally, this supplanting of Android over Windows from a user base is not news to Microsoft. Their adoption of a mobile first strategy, which heavily depends on their apps on Android devices, speaks to this fact. Redmond knows that they are about to be passed and instead of trying to fight this fact, they are leveraging it to their advantage as best they can. And you know what? They are doing a pretty good job. The Office apps for Android are terrific and if you are in the Microsoft ecosystem from an Office perspective, having an Android device isn’t limiting or punishing in any way. That strength in apps is only going to continue.