More than one billion Android devices are expected to ship this year, according to research firm Gartner. It expects 1.1bn Google-powered smartphones and tablets to ship in 2014, driven by surging demand for these devices in the developing world as well as established Western markets.
The prediction was published as part of a wider set of forecasts for device shipments, including the claim that 263.5m tablets will ship this year compared to 277.9m PCs, with the former overtaking the latter in 2015.
Android’s popularity is likely to be a big spur for the growth of digital entertainment services, including music. Gartner estimates that there are already 1.9bn Android devices in use compared to 682m Apple devices – the latter figure includes Mac computers as well as iPhones, iPads and iPod touch devices though. We’ve already seen a number of music services – from Spotify and Pandora through to the likes of Saavn and Dhingana in India – talk about the growing proportion of their usage coming from mobile devices.
There are plenty of other datapoints floating around to complement this too. Apple’s $10bn of iOS apps revenue in 2013 is one example, as was yesterday’s announcement by British broadcaster the BBC of the latest stats for its iPlayer catch-up TV service. “2013 truly proved to be the year of the tablet and after they were all unwrapped, Boxing Day saw tablet viewing overtake computer viewing for the first time in iPlayer history,” said iPlayer boss Dan Taylor.
Meanwhile, another British firm, telco EE, said yesterday that it has now signed up more than 2m subscribers for its 4G LTE network: the first million took it 10 months, and the second million just four months, doubling its target for 2013. That’s just one of many such stories from around the world, as mobile operators redouble their efforts to upsell their users from 3G contracts to 4G – often using streaming music as one of the spurs.
Remember when we used to talk about “mobile music” as a specific segment of the industry: ringtones and full-track downloads to phones? In 2014, thanks to the trends above, that segmentation has melted away. Digital music is increasingly mobile music.