2 Billion

Posted on May 17, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Android with 83 Comments

2 Billion

Google announced today that there are now over 2 billion monthly active Android devices worldwide. So Android has doubled its user base in just two years.

I can’t find a figure for last year’s Google I/O conference, but Google previously announced the 1 billion milestone in May 2015. And in September 2015, it revealed at the Nexus device launch that there were then 1.4 billion monthly active Android devices.

For the anti-Google in the audience, this is no doubt depressing and will trigger some rationalization in which this milestone is somehow not as impressive as it seems. But make no mistake: Android is the most popular personal computing platform on earth, by a wide margin. And its lead over Windows and iOS is actually growing each year.

As important, Android doesn’t stand alone. In fact, Google also reported today that it has six other products and services with over one billion monthly active users: Google Search, Chrome, YouTube, Maps, Play Store, and Gmail.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai also touched on a topic I raise with regards to Windows 10 and PCs, but in the reverse: Engagement.

“It’s not just the scale at which these products are working, users engage with them very heavily,” he said. And then he provided some examples.

YouTube, in addition to its 1 billion monthly active users, sees over one billion hours of usage every single day. And users navigate over one billion kilometers every day using Google Maps.

And soon, other Google products and services will join the “one billion” club. Google Drive, for example, has over 800 million monthly active users, and these users upload over 3 billion objects to the services every week. And Google Photos, launched just two years ago, now has over 500 million monthly active users who upload over 1.2 billion photos every day. Every. Single. Day.

This cross-product success is a virtuous cycle that benefits all of Google’s offerings. Users’ positive experiences with Google Photos, for example, might trigger a Pixel purchase (since all photos taken with that device are backed up for free in full resolution), and will lead to more Google app usage.

Mr. Pichai noted that this was “all because of the growth of mobile and smartphones,” while adding that computing was evolving yet again. Copying Microsoft’s “mobile first, cloud first” mantra, Google now says that the “mobile first” approach is shifting to “AI first,” or what the firm now calls—groan–“mobile first, AI first.”

In other words, Google sees the world much as Microsoft does. But the difference is that, today, Google controls the client, not Microsoft. And for this reason, Google is more likely to capitalize on client-based advances, even though both companies are in some ways working towards the same goals. This is, of course, why Microsoft’s mobile defeat is so terrible and will have ramifications far beyond just that one market. Microsoft just doesn’t benefit from the same virtuous cycle that Google does.

2 billion. Yikes.


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