Google's Android mobile operating system has been dominating markets worldwide, even here in the United States, where Apple's iPhone and iOS have long reigned supreme. If trends continue, Google's Android shipments this year could surpass the magical number of 1 billion.

Analytics firm Gartner forecasts that Google's Android shipments for 2014 will hit 1.17 billion, up from nearly 900 million last year. The figure represents a jump of around 23 percent. Apple's Mac OS and iOS, meanwhile, shipped only 236 million units in 2013, and Gartner predicts the Cupertino-based operating systems will move only 271 million this year. Due to rumors of an impending large-screen iPhone 6, Apple is expected to hit a lull in sales until the fall, when the new device is expected to launch.

"We expect the announcement of the new Apple iPhone 6 will attract pent-up demand for users who want a larger screen," Gartner research director Annette Zimmermann said.

Still, the late spurt looks like it won't be enough to gain serious traction in the mobile market.

The Gartner numbers consider shipments of smartphones and ultramobiles, including tablets and PCs.

Windows will also apparently make some gains in 2014, with 333 million Windows-based units (including phones, tablets and PCs), up from 326 million in 2013.

"Windows phones will exhibit strong growth from a low base in 2014 and are projected to reach a 10 percent market share by 2018 -- up from 4 percent in 2014."

The numbers tell the overall story, but with smartphone shipments expected to hit 1.9 billion in 2014, up 3.1 percent from 2013, handsets with advanced operating systems are going to be the big story of the year thanks to programs like Android One. According to Gartner, smartphones will make up 88 percent of global mobile phone sales by 2018, a serious increase from the 66 percent in 2013. And here, in smartphone territory, we really see Android's dominance.

In the United States, Android has been enjoying a 50 percent to 40 percent market share lead over Apple's iOS system. Keep in mind that Android phones have many manufacturers, such as Samsung, HTC, Sony and LG, while only Apple makes iOS phones. Worldwide, however, the Android adoption rate far outweighs iOS. Data from the International Data Corp. has Android winning around 80 percent of the smartphone market in 2014, with iOS taking second place at 14 percent.

Mature and nonmature markets around the world show a preference for Android, with Google's operating system holding 60 to 80 percent of the market in most countries, according to numbers from Kantar Worldpanel.

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