Android on pace to surpass one billion devices this year, says Gartner

But percentage-wise, the number of devices based on Apple OSes is increasing faster, according to the market research company

This year vendors will ship 1.1 billion devices based on Android, while Windows stages a small comeback and the number of Apple machines, percentage-wise, increases the most, according to estimates from market research company Gartner.

Shipments of PCs, tablets and mobile phones of all shapes and sizes will increase by 7.6 percent year-on-year to 2.47 billion units, as users across the globe continue to buy more tablets and phones, according to Gartner.

Google's Android is and will continue to be the most popular OS by a wide margin, much thanks to the growing popularity of low-cost smartphones. That segment of the market will this year help Android devices surpass shipments of 1 billion units for the first time. By 2017, more than 75 percent of Android' shipments will come from emerging markets, Gartner said.

So far, Android hasn't had tremendous success beyond its core product categories, but consumers' familiarity with the OS helps vendors like Lenovo and Hewlett-Packard, which are using the OS on new PCs, according to Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. This week's International CES trade show illustrates how the popularity of Google's OS is starting to spill over from smartphones and tablets to all-in-one PCs, TVs and cars.

The number of devices based on Apple OSes and Windows is also increasing, according to Gartner's estimates. Year-on-year, shipments of Android devices will rise by 25.6 percent, compared to 29 percent for iOS and Mac OS and almost 10 percent for Windows.

Even though Microsoft can't keep up with Apple and the Android camps, Windows' expected growth will indicate a change in fortunes for the company. A total of 359.9 million devices are expected to ship this year compared to 328 million last year and 346.3 million in 2012. The growth will come as the decline of the PCs market slows down and more people choose smartphones running Windows, according to Atwal.

Microsoft's smartphone OS hasn't taken off as fast as many analysts expected, but in the first three quarters of last year Nokia steadily increased the number of Windows Phones it shipped. Microsoft is now in the process of closing its acquisition of Nokia's device business, and will have do its best to accelerate that momentum.

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Mikael Ricknäs

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