Google is fiercely proud of Android. That much was apparent when the company announced at its annual developer conference that over 900 million Android devices had been activated since its introduction in 2008. At the time, Google said it was just the beginning for Android, and a recent study agrees.
Gartner released a study today that predicts what the electronic device market will look like in 2013. Gartner's Research Vice President Carolina Milanesi says that "consumers want anytime-anywhere computing that allows them to consumer and create content with ease." In short, she says that "mobility is paramount" and that shows in Gartner's predictions.
First up, Gartner predicts that we'll see over 2 billion mobile device (smartphones and tablets) shipments this year. That much is old news, but the real kicker is that over 1 billion of those mobile devices will be equipped with Google's Android OS. If true, this will be the first time that any mobile OS has hit one billion device shipments in a year.
Android may be named the clear winner in 2013, but its competitors will have a solid year as well. Gartner predicts that Windows will actually come in second place in total device shipments with over 378 million due to increased sales of Windows 8 PCs. Apple comes in at a comfortable third with over 350 million iOS devices to be shipped this year. RIM is the odd one out with Gartner predicting only 22 million device shipments this year.
So, what's driving this explosive growth in mobile devices? Gartner says it's all about lower prices and better hardware:
“The increased availability of lower priced basic tablets, plus the value add shifting to software rather than hardware will result in the lifetimes of premium tablets extending as they remain active in the household for longer. We will also see consumer preferences split between basic tablets and ultramobile devices,” said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. “With mobile phones, volume expectations for 2013 have been brought down as the life cycles lengthen as consumers wait for new models and lower prices to hit the market in the Fall and holiday season. The challenge in the smartphone market is also that, as penetration moves more and more to the mass market, price points are lowering and in most cases so do margins.”
Interestingly enough, Gartner also says that consumer electronics will become more consumer oriented as more businesses implement BYOD policies. In other words, companies will now have to design more for consumer markets as companies are increasingly no longer asking for enterprise editions of smartphones.
The main takeaway from all of this is that mobile is going nowhere. In fact, the market is only going to expand as more emerging markets start to buy up smartphones and tablets. I wouldn't be surprised if there were more than 3 billion devices sold worldwide by 2014.