Google just announced 2.0B total Android users worldwide, at the end of last week.
This is a big milestone clearly. It also is not a smartphone Android count: it includes tablets too. But it differs considerably from my count of 2.6B total Android smartphones in use. I've said many times before that in my count, I include all Android manufacturers, both those who offer full Google Play and 'official' Android users, and those who provide the Android-compatible 'forked' usually cheaper phones that run on AOSP (Android Open Source Platform). I did this because up to today, it was impossible to separate out the two flavors of Android, so I just reported the top-line number. Most phones sold for example in China and India run AOSP while nearly all 'Android' smartphones in the rich world are full Google Android phones. Obviously in rough terms, about two thirds of all smartphones sold worldwide are 'official' Android and one third are 'forked' Android or AOSP versions.
We do not know the proportion by tablets, but it is very likely that the tablet market strongly mirrors the smarphone market. This means, that for the first time my consultancy can give a rough estimate of the total Android market separating out the AOSP devices. We also can then calculate out the smartphone market and its shares. Now that we have this data, I will be including it into the global market share installed base numbers as I publish those.
So here is my rough math. I estimate that out of the about 450 million total Android tablets sold so far (through Dec 2016) about 75% are still in use (tablets have a longer life span than smartphones, they are replaced less frequently than phones; and for comparisons, I estimate iPads have still 80% in use). So I get 340 million active Android tablets in use. When we add that to the Android smartphone count of 2.6 Billion, we arrive at 2.94B total Android devices (including AOSP) in use.
From the 2.94B total Android installed base, we see Google only 'sees' 2.0B ie 68%. That tells us that about 32% of all nominally 'Android' devices that have been sold, according to public sales data, are not visible to Google, so they are not 'official' Android. They are thus AOSP devices. I will use the assumption that this percentage will be the same for both smartphones and tablets (until we get any better data) and thus, we get a rough count for the Android 2.6 Billion installed base smartphone market: It splits 68% official Android (ie Play Store compatible) at 1.8B smartphones; vs 800 million AOSP devices whose owners would typically get their apps from a local branded app store or some national app store.
For context, lets remember that Apple iOS has about 600 million iPhones in use (and 300 million iPads plus the last 100M are miscellaneous other iOS gadgets like iPod Touch media players, Apple Watches etc). So out of the 'real addressable app store' ecosystem approach, Google-managed part of Android is currently pretty much three times as large as Apple's iOS in terms of smartphones. (that being the primary focus for my blog, ie it is the real 'mobile' opportunity we track). For the full-portfolio digital device scope, official Android is about 2x larger than iOS, when tablets and others are added. Note that as consumers, most who own an iPad will also own an iPhone, etc, so the unique smartphone market is also nearly the same as 'total unique users' on that given platform.
One last observation, the total Android 'potential' market beyond smartphones is 2.94 B and shortly 3.0B when AOSP devices (smartphones and tablets) are included. This is the potental that Google may be able to reach in future editions and on the migration and upgrade paths of those consumers. Apple's 'ceiling' is pretty close to the 600 million it now has, and is trying to sell SECOND gadgets to existing iFans, ie Apple Watches and new Macbooks etc, to existing iPhone owners.
I figured my readers were eagerly hoping to get these numbers; I certainly was thrilled to finally be able to estimate the AOSP share out of total Android smartphones.
(I will soon do the market share numbers for Q1 of 2017, but that race is no longer in any way dramatic...)
PS for those who need 'all' the data on handsets, remember the brand new TomiAhonen Phone Book 2016 (released every 2 years) came out just last December so the numbers are quite fresh covering the end of the year 2016. See more about TomiAhonen Phone Book here.