How big can Android device sales get? Think nearly 4x that of Windows in 2015

By the end of next year, there could be nearly four times as many devices sold running on Google Android than on Microsoft Windows(s msft). That’s a staggering figure from research firm Gartner, which forecast device sales on Thursday. The company expects that of the 2.6 billion computers, tablets, and mobile phones sold in 2015, 1.3 billion of them will run Android(s goog).

Transformer Prime: the hottest Android tablet yet? Thumbnail

That’s half of the total market for next year and I think it’s a reasonable estimate. Android accounts for the bulk of mobile phone sales around the world these days and last year it topped iOS in the tablet market too. Combine that market clout with falling traditional PC sales and it’s easy to see why Gartner’s figures are solid. It’s also easy to see how the early ripples of computing change have become big waves of a shift that are crashing down on Microsoft.

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Of those expected 2.6 billion computing device sales, Gartner figures 379.3 million of them will run Microsoft Windows. That number includes Windows Phones, tablets running Windows as well as traditional laptops and desktops. Quickly doing the math, that means for every one Microsoft Windows device sold, 3.6 Android devices are purchased.

Looking at 2013’s device sales puts that in perspective and further illustrates the shift towards mobile. Last year, Gartner says 325.1 million Windows devices were sold, so Microsoft isn’t expected to see much market share growth through 2015. Android will, however, as it ran on 879.8 million devices last year. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the trend here, as well as to further suggest that Microsoft has missed much of the mobile transition of late.

Still, there are many valid reasons for consumers and businesses to keep buying and using Windows devices; they’re not going away any time soon.

Surface 2 multitasking

But it looks like the long term trend is playing out how I suggested in 2012 when I said the “PC” you buy in three years won’t likely be a traditional desktop or laptop (Gigaom Research subscription required). More computing tasks are filtering down to phones and tablets that don’t require a traditional desktop software platform, which opens up the door for alternatives such as Android and iOS(s aapl) now and Chrome in the future.