Next month will be the two-year anniversary of Gmail becoming the most widely used email service on the planet. While it remains the uncontested champion, the Gmail app for Android struck its own accomplishment last week as it became the first conventional app in the Play Store to reach 1 billion downloads. Technically, the Google Play services package crossed the same mark back in January, but it is automatically installed on any device equipped with the Play Store and running Android 2.2 or higher. It's probably fair to pass this honor to the more legitimate runner up.


AppBrain shows the event occurring on May 6th.

The download counter is a tally of unique accounts rather than a total number of devices or individual downloads. Of course, this doesn't mean the app actually has 1 billion regular users - some of those downloads come from abandoned and duplicate accounts. On the other hand, Google reported over 425 million active monthly users in 2012, and that number has almost certainly increased with the growing popularity of Android.

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 4.57.11 AM

Oh yeah, and Google finally fixed the little bug that displayed 705,032,704 in place of 5 billion on the download range. We know everybody was on the edge of their seats over that one.

Thanks, Steven Bell.

Cody Toombs
Cody is a Software Engineer and Writer with a mildly overwhelming obsession with smartphones and the mobile world. If he’s been pulled away from the computer for any length of time, you might find him talking about cocktails and movies, sometimes resulting in the consumption of both.

  • Adam B.

    FIRST LOLO!!!1111!!1!1!!1!!1

  • Ed Elliott

    This the first app like ever on any store to reach 1 billion downloads? If so that's very impressive and speaks to the popularity of Android itself!

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

      I would believe it is, but technically, there's no way to tell. Total iPhones sold worldwide is about 500 million, so nothing in the app store should have crossed 1 billion. I don't believe Amazon's Appstore has enough active users, nor is there any one app that definitively dominates the download numbers.

      The only exception I can think of is Facebook. It doesn't have more downloads in any one store, but across the Play Store and Amazon, it might actually be ahead. There's no way to know without more specific numbers.

      • Guest

        that's a bad comparison. Android devices have way more numbers than iOS so I could totally believe those numbers especially when you factor in that most every Android device worth their salt has Gmail installed (even kindle devices can be modified to run Gmail). Even if the user doesn't actually use Gmail it's very likely they have that app.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

          Um, what comparison? I don't understand what you're disagreeing with.

        • AbbyZFresh

          Remember that some users may have 2 or 3 different Android devices. That may count as 3 Gmail downloads despite being linked to one owner.

          • Guest

            From the article:

            "The download counter is a tally of unique accounts rather than a total number of devices or individual downloads."

      • bprichard

        The only thing that might throw a monkey wrench in this is Chinese apps for Android. They don't have a unified source, so they're more or less impossible to add up accurately.

        The only two apps that would have a chance would be Sina Weibo or WeChat/Weixin (or maybe QQ instant messenger, which actually may have a shot). The last numbers I saw for WeChat indicate that it should be around 600-700 million. I haven't seen numbers for Sina Weibo in a long time, but I don't think they have over a billion users registered, so I doubt it.

        • bprichard

          Commenting to myself, but WeChat is listed on Google Play at 100-500 million downloads. I have literally no idea what this means. The vast majority of WeChat users did not download it from Google Play, as less than 1% of Chinese users use it.

    • Mike Evans

      Google Play Services has been in the 1BN - 5BN bracket for a while.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/77537273@N03/ Herman

    I've always been wondering what the most popular app was on the Play Store.
    Now I gotta see that number with my own eyes :)

    ... I should get a life, perhaps.

    • AbbyZFresh

      It's most likely the Google Search(Google Now) app.

  • http://www.bordersweather.co.uk/ Andy J

    The question is though - when an app is preinstalled on a device - as Gmail is, when Gmail is updated the device will automatically install the updated the version - as long as there are no changes to permissions. Does this update count as a unique download?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

      The update itself doesn't, because the tally is based on the number of accounts that have downloaded Gmail. However, I'm not entirely sure what event triggers the addition of Gmail to the account. It might be added when the person activates an account with an Android device for the first time, or it might be the first time that Gmail is downloaded on a given account. None of that matters very much though.

      I'm just surprised that Play Services and Gmail aren't more in sync. I honestly thought Gmail would have a higher count than GMS because it was installed on pre-2.2 devices. I can't think of very many devices that have GMS without having Gmail.

      • http://www.bordersweather.co.uk/ Andy J

        Let me explain a bit better. Imagine Person A buys a new Android device, and up to that point - they have never owned an Android device in their life. When they turn it on and log into Google, the version of Gmail that is on their device was preinstalled and is up-to-date so no update happens. A month later Play Services is updated and silently updated - increasing the figure because this is the first time this account has "downloaded" Play Services from the Play Store. Gmail however isn't updated for another 2 - 6 months after they bought the device, so the unique install count for Gmail would not be incremented by 1, until there is an update available at which point when the device downloads the update, this would be the first time - according to the Play Store that this unique account actually downloaded it. Does that make it easier to understand?

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

          I think got what you were saying, I just sorta assumed that most people's phones probably weren't shipping with the latest version. However, as I look at Gmail, it turns out that it hasn't been updated since January 8th, so I guess the HTC One m8 and SGS5 probably are shipping with the latest.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        I don't see why an update wouldn't trigger the counter if there was no original install event as far as the Play Store is concerned. I think it would +1 as soon as it saw the first download per device, no matter update or new install.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

          That's what I mean, it's either when an update occurs, or when the device with that app pre-installed is registered with a given account.

  • Vesta12

    It would be interesting to find out how many, out of the 1B downloads, are still actively using the app, or rather, still have an active Google account so to speak.

    • CerealFTW

      I've probably downloaded it over 50 times at least because I have had to re-download because of roms and such. And I wonder if updates are included in these numbers

      • Roh_Mish

        No. One download peer account if I am right

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

          Thank you for reading the post ;)

        • CerealFTW

          Thanks for correcting me, but damn that's a lot of downloads...

    • http://dennisbareis.com/ Dennis Bareis

      Google Play store should tell you how many users have downloaded it and how many users still have it installed. Nothing else matters.

  • AbbyZFresh

    I don't know. How do we know it's not factoring ACTIVE Gmail users and not just ones who use it once a month. Don't forget that Gmail is practically forced onto your Android phone as part of the Google Apps contract to OEMs. Does that mean there are 1 billion Gmail users in the world? lol.

    After the G+ fiasco, I don't believe any numbers Google puts out anymore.

  • Adam Truelove

    I remember when all the first party apps (Gmail, Calendar, etc.) weren't even in the play store, so the only hope of getting new versions was with OS updates from your carrier. Then Google started transitioning them all to the play store, with the most recent being the camera. There are still a few more to go like the phone and people apps.

  • Rami

    I keep wondering why Play store statistics want to be so vague, now it says from 1B-5B, this means next step will only be when 70% of the earth population are using GMail.

    Why not make the count rounded to the 50K, or 100K... Never understood Google with the numbers.

    • The Maverick

      when it comes to billions, rounding to the nearest million is too narrow a margin

  • Jaymoon

    Google Play Store seems to be confused...

    I've always questioned these numbers, especially when I flash a new ROM on my phone, and it appears to be a "new phone" in my device list. Google with inflated numbers? Naaaaww.

  • http://byazrov.ru/ RussianPhotographer

    And even at this celebration point Gmail app is buggy as an old jackass, I switched to Android built-in client. it downloads attached images with no problems. Gmail app obviously is not supposed to be used by those who receive more than a few a little bit bigger sized images. Google is slow and getting even slower each year. So many bugs are left unfixed for years.

  • ge

    How many Gmail accounts are actually real? I have atleast 3 that I never use (created for questionable purposes), one that I use solely to back up contacts and select data on my phone, and one regular email account that I also use on my phone.

    Maybe it balances out because I have 2 fake Outlook and 1 fake Yahoo mail account too.

  • James

    1 billion downloads. Question is how many installs, and how many active users? No. of downloads doesnt really mean anything.

  • John

    There is no support for CSS media queries in this Gmail App. Responsive emails that would look beautiful on your stock android email app will look like zoomed out webpages on the Gmail App. Do not use this app!!!!!!!!! - A responsive email dev

    • SHeadius

      Email isn't supposed to be beautiful.