Google will be celebrating a birthday this weekend as their mobile operating system turns four years old. In the relatively short time it's been around, more than 500 million devices running Android have been activated as Google continues to check in around 1.3 million new products each day. The OS has helped to transform the mobile landscape into a driving force for a number of businesses today.

It’s hard to imagine most people still used standard cell phones four years ago. Those that did have a smartphone may recall that Research in Motion was a force to be reckoned with, Palm was still relevant and the iPhone 3G was only a couple of months old… my how times have changed.

Android 1.0 was released on September 23, 2008 although its roots date back much further. Rich Miner, Andy Rubin, Nick Sears and Chris White came together to start a company called Android in October 2003 – nearly nine years ago. The majority of co-founders brought a wealth of experience to the table: Miner worked as a senior executive at Orange, Rubin was the CEO of Danger, Sears was a senior VP for T-Mobile while White was once in charge of design and interface development for WebTV. Google scooped up Android in August 2005 for $50 million.

The first phone to hit the market running Android software was the HTC Dream (also known as the T-Mobile G1). The American carrier subsidized the handset for $129.99 with a two year contract. T-Mobile announced sales of one million units in April 2009 and discontinued the phone just over a year later in July 2010.

Google has a bright future ahead with Android as they continue to battle with Apple’s iOS for market share. The two operating systems are the most popular in the world and will likely continue to be unless Microsoft can gain some serious ground with Windows Phone 8 starting later this year.