We all know that Android is far and away the leading mobile operating system, commanding more than 80 percent of the market, but it seems that it’s even bigger than we thought. A new report from StatCounter says Android is actually the most widely used operating system in the world, topping longtime leader Windows for the first time ever.
StatCounter’s trackers peg worldwide Android usage (in terms of total internet usage across desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile combined) at 37.93 percent, a hair over Windows’ 37.91 percent. It might not seem like much (and to be fair, it could easily flip back to Windows’ side next quarter), but it marks a historic milestone: No operating system has been able to knock Windows off its perch since the 1980s.
It also speaks to the pervasiveness of Android. It’s one thing to say it has more users than iOS, but these numbers are about usage. It means that more people are using Android devices to get online than they are with any other device, including PCs. Granted, there are a lot of variables here, such as cost, cellular connectivity, and portability, all of which offer advantages over PCs, but it shows that the people buying Android phones are using them a lot.
The numbers tell a different story in North America, where Windows still holds a lead, with a 39.5 percent share compared to Android’s 21.2 percent, so Android’s global reach is clearly having a major impact. For example, StatCounter reported just last week that mobile usage in India is more than twice that in the United States.
Mobile milestone: While it doesn’t necessarily mean much in the scheme of things, Android surpassing Windows in any category is quite an accomplishment, especially in such a short time. PCs sales have been falling for years, but there are still lots and lots of Windows machines out there, and it’s amazing to think that more people are using phones and tablets to get online than computers. It’s not so much the end of an era as it is the cementing of smartphones as our go-tool tools for most tasks—now it’s about seeing what they can do over the next 10 years.