Fourth Industrial Revolution

The world’s most popular operating system? You might be surprised

People use computers at an Internet cafe in Changzhi, north China's Shanxi province June 20, 2007. The blocking of Flickr is the latest casualty of China's ongoing battle to control its sprawling Internet. Wikipedia, and a raft of other popular Web sites, discussion boards and blogs have already fallen victim to the country's censors. China employs a complex system of filters and an army of tens of thousands of human monitors to survey the country's 140 million Internet users' surfing habits and surgically clip sensitive content from in front of their eyes.   To match feature PRIVACY-CHINA/   REUTERS/Stringer (CHINA) CHINA OUT - RTR1QYNB

Smartphones have eclipsed desktop computers as a means for accessing the web. Image: REUTERS/Stringer

Joe Myers
Writer, Forum Agenda
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Fourth Industrial Revolution

For the first time, you’re more likely to be using an Android operating system to read this piece than Windows.

In March, Android’s market share ticked over to 37.93%, pushing its little robot nose ahead of Windows by just 0.02%. Data from StatCounter - a web analytics service - shows iOS and OS X trailing some distance behind.

 Image 1
Image: StatCounter

Android’s position at the top caps a remarkable rise. 5 years ago the Google owned system claimed less than 2.4% of the pie.

And Microsoft? More than 80%.

What’s given Android lift-off?

Breaking down the data a little shows just what’s behind Android’s surging market share.

Although Windows remains the king of desktop, Android reigns in the world of mobile with a 71.5% share.

Last year, for the first time, mobile devices were used more than desktops to browse the web. This reflects a broader trend of rising smartphone usage.

As the popularity of mobile has increased, Android has been well placed to take advantage. Its source code is free to use for any hardware manufacturer, so it’s used in a variety of smartphones - at a variety of prices.

 Image 2
Image: Statista

A Pew Research Center report from last year highlights the increasing use of smartphones in emerging economies. Between 2013 and 2016, ownership rates increased by 42 percentage points in Turkey, 34 in Malaysia and 26 in Chile and Brazil.

China has also seen a significant rise in ownership. 68% of adults reported owning a smartphone last year, compared to 37% in 2013.

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A geographical difference

There are big differences between regions of the world that highlight the growth of mobile over desktop in emerging economies.

In Africa and Asia, Android is the most popular operating system. Today, Android claims more than half of the market share in Asia, with Windows less than 30%. But, just a year ago, things were much closer.

 Image 3
Image: StatCounter

Conversely, in Europe and North America, Windows remains the dominant system - although with a declining share.

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