In other words: About one of every two computers sold today is running Android. Google’s once underappreciated side bet has become Earth’s dominant computing platform.
Google’s version of Android faces increasing competition from hungry rivals, including upstart smartphone makers in developing countries that are pushing their own heavily modified take on the software. There are also new threats from Apple, which has said that its recent record number of iPhone sales came, in part, thanks to people switching from Android.
Apple vacuumed up nearly 90 percent of the profits in the smartphone business. The stark numbers prompted a troubling question for Android and for Google: How will the search company — or anyone else, for that matter — ever make much money from Android?
In 2014, Google Play sold about $10 billion in apps, of which Google kept about $3 billion (the rest was paid out to developers). Apple makes more from its App Store. Sales there exceeded $14 billion in 2014
Because Xiaomi and others don’t make much of a profit by selling phones, they’re all looking for other ways to make money — and for many, the obvious business is in apps offering mail, messaging and other services that compete with Google’s own moneymaking apps.
About 30 percent of Android smartphones shipped in the last quarter of 2014 were actually modified, or forked, versions of the OS that may not be very hospitable to Google’s services
“a higher rate of switchers than we’ve experienced in previous iPhone cycles.” Apple has not specified the rate of switching, but a survey by Cowen & Company found that 16 percent of people who bought the latest iPhones previously owned Android devices; in China, that rate was 29 percent.