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Gartner: Android Shipments To Hit 1 Billion in 2014; Still Room for Windows?

In the year 2014, according to analysts at Gartner, the tech world can look forward to Android devices passing 1 billion units shipped in a year -- the first time any platform has reached that kind of volume.

Yet despite Android bounding by 74 percent in unit shipments from 2012 to 2013 and Apple climbing 25 percent in that same period as Windows fell by 5 percent, Gartner seems to see reasons for optimism about Microsoft's future. 

Gartner released its overall shipment projections for different device types and operating system platforms on Tuesday. The release marked a change in the way Gartner has reported the figures, or at least in the way it reveals them broadly. In the past, Gartner discussed PC shipments, smartphone shipments and tablet shipments separately. This year, the market research firm tallied total shipments for an OS brand as one value. For example, Windows PC, Windows tablet and Windows Phone shipments all count together in one lump sum for Windows shipments.*

Android shipped an estimated 878 million units in 2013, and Gartner expects the platform to hit 1.1 billion units in 2014.

Windows was second in total shipments for 2013 at 328 million units, with a 10 percent increase forecast for 2014 to 360 million units. The numbers for Apple's iOS and Mac OS platforms are 267 million units in 2013 and 344 million units in 2014.

By Gartner's calculations, most of the headroom in the mobile phone market, where Android has been wildly successful, appears to be occupied. Gartner projects growth of only 5 percent and 4 percent for that market overall in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

While traditional desktop PCs and notebook PCs fell by 12 percent in 2013 and will keep falling in 2014 and 2015, although somewhat more slowly, Gartner expects the fastest growth of any category over the next two years to come from tablets, hybrids and clamshells.

The Gartner estimates seem to be building on an assumption that the hybrid and clamshell category, with their productivity focus, will be an area of special strength for Microsoft.

* Unlike for Windows and iOS/Mac OS, Gartner reported figures for Google Chrome separately from Google's Android environment. That's a good thing since the progress of the Chrome platform is a hot topic and the new numbers show a fast-growing category, although from a long way back that would have disappeared as less than a rounding error in Android's overall volume. Chrome devices exploded by 895 percent from 185,000 units in 2012 to 1.8 million units in 2013. Gartner anticipates 160 percent growth in 2014 to nearly 4.8 million units and 67 percent growth in 2015 to 8 million units.

Posted by Scott Bekker on January 08, 2014