Android will hit 1 billion in 2013

The very first smartphone platform ever to reach one billion devices will be Android.

And it will happen some time next year, according to IHS iSuppli. “For Google, this accomplishment highlights the success of its growth strategy for Android, which is based on providing the operating system as an open-source platform to third-party smartphone brands free of charge,” the group’s mobile analyst Daniel Gleeson wrote in a statement.

Don’t expect Android’s growth to dwindle any time soon, either. It’s expected to hit 3 billion units by 2016, meaning iSuppli doesn’t see any credible threats posed at Google in the next four years.

Of course, Google couldn’t have done it without the many manufacturers that have also come to treat Android as their own.

Samsung is the most notable. It owns an astounding 30.6% of the mobile phone market as of last month. It toppled Nokia as the leader in the industry for the first time in 15 years.

And with more than 50% of American consumers now owning smartphones, and with Android as the most popular smartphone platform by far, owning that industry is a huge deal.

The conventional strategy for cell phones has always been to secure a deal with one carrier in regions like the US, because when you do that, the carrier will give you favorable terms.

But that seems to be less of a worry now when customers care about the phone more than the carrier these days. It will be interesting to see if this carrier-agnostic phenomenon continues.