The Android operating system from Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google is inching extremely close to passing Microsoft (MSFT) as the most popular operating system (OS) for Internet usage, according to February 2017 data collected by StatCounter from usage across desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile.
"This is hugely significant for Microsoft," StatCounter CEO Aodhan Cullen told TheStreet. "It's coming close to the end of an era with Microsoft no longer having the dominant operating system. It took the lead from Apple (AAPL) in the 80s and has held that title ever since." This new development is coming after Google's Chrome browser has already beat out Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Edge, he added.
According to last month's data, Windows took 38.6% of the OS market share worldwide, vs. a close 37.4% grabbed by Android. This numbers are significant considering Windows held 82% of the global Internet usage share in 2012, vs. a measly 2.2% held by Android.
"The idea of Android almost matching Windows would have been unthinkable five years ago," Cullen wrote in the post. The development is a result of more smartphones that can access the Internet and a slowdown in the sales of traditional PCs, Cullen said.
StatCounter noted that Windows still has a comfortable lead in the PC Internet usage with a staggering 84.1% market share. "Windows has won the desktop war but the battlefield has moved on," Cullen claimed.
The new battle is in mobile and tablet Internet usage, which surpassed desktop and laptop Internet usage globally for the first time in October 2016, according to StatCounter. Mobile and tablet devices captured 51.3% of Internet usage across the world, topping the 48.7% grabbed by desktops. For this reason, businesses should make sure that their websites are mobile friendly, not only so they can capture some of the growing mobile Internet usage market share, but also because Google favors mobile friendly websites, Cullen said.
T. Rowe Price Global Technology Fund portfolio manager Josh Spencer agreed with Cullen, saying these figures show that mobile Internet usage is rising at the expense of PCs. "In many regions of the world, particularly emerging markets, the PC infrastructure is non existent and applications are increasingly mobile-first," he noted. "That is likely to continue and potentially even accelerate. Google has done extremely well with Android and taken advantage of this shift."