We noted 18 months ago that Android could be on track to ship a billion devices in 2014, tablets included, and Strategy Analytics has just revealed that the tablets weren’t needed: more than a billion Android smartphones were sold last year.

Android shipped 1.0 billion smartphones worldwide in 2014, rising from 0.8 billion units in 2013. Android has become the first ever smartphone operating system to ship more than 1 billion units in a single year. Android accounted for a huge 81 percent share of all smartphones shipped globally in 2014.

Putting the number at 1.0427B handsets, the research company said that emerging markets like China were key to the growth. The figures show that the Android smartphone market has doubled in size since 2012 … 

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Strategy Analytics said that Apple’s iOS was the only serious threat to Android’s dominance, but its data showed that Apple sold less than a fifth as many handsets. The new numbers give Android an 81% market share, with Apple at 15% and Microsoft at 3%.

Android’s growth has been largely driven by Chinese makers like Huawei and Xiaomi, both of whom have enjoyed record-breaking sales, though LG has also been enjoying strong growth.

Coincidentally, Google yesterday revealed that its Chromecast streaming device has been used a billion times.

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