Quick. Name the world’s most popular or most used computer operating systems. Well, there’s macOS, right? And, of course, Windows. And, uh, um– oh yeah– Android. And Android has the most devices in the wild, right?
Uh, not quite. Apple says they have about 1.3-billion devices in use, which means iOS has well over 1-billion of those; a few hundred million for the Mac. What about the others? The numbers and the conclusion may surprise you.
The Year Of Linux
Every year for about a decade someone has predicted The Year of Linux on the Desktop. Those days are gone. Linux does not own the desktop. That belongs to Windows. Then Apple and the Mac. True, but computer wars are over. Windows won. Among desktops and notebooks, and, uh, well, that’s about it.
Why? Because we’re moving rapidly into the post-PC era, the mobile device era, that place on the space time continuum where Android rules. That means Linux has already won. No, the little Unix clone that could is not and may not dominate where Windows rules among desktops and notebooks, and certainly won’t take home the lion’s share of PC profits the way Apple’s Mac does, but Android is based on Linux.
OK, but what about lies, damned lies, and statistics? Those count, right?
If so, then Windows remains on top– at least according to the Federal Digital Analytics Program which collects stats on visitors to 400 U.S. executive branch government domains. Allow me the privilege of calling such numbers as poppycock. Accurate, perhaps, for what they are, but not reflective of the rest of the world.
Viewed worldwide, Android (Linux) tops Windows which tops iOS which tops macOS which is well above Linux at less than 1-percent worldwide.
Yeah, I know. More statistics. At least someone is counting but I have some issues with what is being counted. Here’s why:
Google claims about 2.6-billion or so Android devices on earth. Apple claims about 1.3-billion iPhones and iPads and Macs. Added up, the total should be about half of Android. It’s not.
Regardless, it’s easy to see what is going on. Linux is not well represented, and among those .77-percent of Linux users, there are about 173 different Linux distributions on the planet, including Android itself, whatever Amazon uses in those tablets and Echo devices and elsewhere, and not to mention the server market which various and sundry Linux distributions own.
Yeah, statistics and charts are fun to look at but easy to poke holes in. They can also be sliced and diced to display total number of products in use vs. those sold last year (Apple’s products tend to last longer and get used more often). Here’s another one which displays popular operating systems in a different light.
In the end, we’ve already achieved The Year of Linux on Devices, but metrics can be looked at many ways. Microsoft gets direct revenue from Windows. Google and Apple do not get direct revenue from Android, macOS or iOS, respectively. Linux is free. Yet, Apple makes more money by selling devices which run on macOS or iOS (or watchOS or tvOS et al). None of this matters much because usage is tied to point and click or touch; user interface paradigms that seems mostly universal on popular operating systems.
Regardless, Apple makes plenty of money on macOS and iOS, Google remains greedy with Android, Microsoft keeps a cash cow with Windows, and Linux wins the marketshare race if you don’t mind shuffling the statistics to make it seem so.