500 million downloads of Word for Android – is that really a big number

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Microsoft Word for Android devices has achieved a seemingly impressive milestone, 500 million downloads. Is that ‘half a billion’ number truly big when compared to the number of Android devices in use?

We’re inspired by the wonderful More or Less program and podcast from BBC Radio 4 to ask the question ‘Is that a big number?‘.

Two decades of Office Watch has taught us to be wary of large, boastful, unaudited numbers from tech companies. For example, Microsoft keeps boasting about the ‘billion plus’ users of Microsoft Office without any justification (in fact, they get quite annoyed if anyone dares question their hype).

The ‘downloads’ number only counts installs of Word for Android, not necessarily people using the app.  It’s not audited or verified, to our knowledge, so we have to take Google’s word for any of these numbers.  Does the ‘download’ count include people who have installed the app several times on the same device?  It doesn’t seem to account for people who have switched to a newer device.

How many Android devices are there?

There’s plenty of numbers showing the proportion of Apple vs Android vs Windows devices but few we could find on the raw numbers.

As a guide, there were over 250 million Android devices shipped in the first quarter of 2018 alone.

So yes, 500 million downloads is a big proportion of Android devices with Microsoft Word.  Quite how big isn’t certain.

What about Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote for Android?

The other Office related apps have a ‘mere’ 100 million downloads each.  That’s another indication of how popular Office for Android is.


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