Microsoft might have sold hundreds of millions of Windows 7 licenses, and Apple might be managing to to persuade tens of millions of people to buy iOS-powered devices every quarter, but the real winner when it comes to operating systems in 2011 as been Android, Google's mobile operating system.
Based on the Linux kernel, Android is a wildly successful platform. By November of this year some 200 million Android powered devices were in use. If that sounds impressive, consider that this number is growing by some 550,000 daily (or 3.85 million a week, 16.5 million a month). To put this into context, last quarter Apple sold 17 million iPhones and 11 million iPads over the three month period.
Note: It wouldn't surprise me if by this time next year Google is activating 1 million new Android devices a day.
Despite Google not charging handset makers a dime for Android, the mobile platform is a huge money spinner for the company. Android pulled in some $2.5 billion for Google during its last financial year (all from ads), and this number is set to double during this financial year. As the number of Android devices out in the wild increase (and the number of eyeballs looking at the ads increase), then this figure will keep on growing.
Then there are the 10 billion app downloads. That's a staggering number, and at the equivalent point in the Apple App Store's life cycle, it had only managed around half this number of download. What's more impressive is realizing that Google only broke the 3 billion mark back in March of this year, so that's 7 billion in around 8 months (it took Google 20 months to hit the billion download mark in July 2010).
There may be issues that Google need to address when it comes to Android, but we can't allow this to take away from the successes achieved by the mobile platform. Apple might be grabbing the limelight with iOS and the iDevices it is installed on, but Android is the platform for the masses.
Android is, without a doubt, the most successful Linux distro out there. And it's only going to go from strength to strength come 2012.
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