Last year saw over a billion Android-powered smartphones being shipped worldwide, up from nearly 800 million units in 2013, making Google's smartphone OS the first ever to cross the milestone in a single year, according to a report from market research firm Strategy Analytics.

The report notes that a total of 1.3 billion smartphone units were shipped last year, up around 30 percent year-on-year, with Android powering over a whopping 81 percent of those devices, up from nearly 79 percent in 2013.

Global Smartphone OS Shipments (Millions of Units) Q4 '13 2013 Q4 '14 2014
Android 227.3 780.8 291.7 1042.7
Apple iOS 51.0 153.4 74.5 192.7
Microsoft 9.6 35.8 11.3 38.8
Others 2.3 20.0 2.6 9.3
Total 290.2 990.0 380.1 1283.5
Global Smartphone OS Marketshare (%) Q4 '13 2013 Q4 '14 2014
Android 78.3% 78.9% 76.7% 81.2%
Apple iOS 17.6% 15.5% 19.6% 15.0%
Microsoft 3.3% 3.6% 3.0% 3.0%
Others 0.8% 2.0% 0.7% 0.7%
Total 100% 100% 100% 100%

Apple's iOS came in a distant second with worldwide shipments totaling 192.7 million in 2014, up from 153.4 million the year prior. However, in terms of market share, which stood at 15 percent, the OS witnessed a decline of half a percentage point compared to 2013.

A major part of those shipments came in the fourth quarter of 2014, when the company shipped a whopping 74.5 million smartphones, thanks largely to blockbuster sales of the iPhone 6 and its larger sibling the iPhone 6 Plus. This also resulted in the Cupertino-based company becoming the world's largest smartphone vendor, along with Samsung, during the quarter.

Meanwhile Microsoft, which captured the third spot, saw a 0.6 percent year-on-year decline in its market share, which stood at 3 percent, although its shipments increased from 35.8 million to 38.8 million.

"Microsoft’s Windows platform dominates PCs, but it continues to struggle in smartphones," the report said, adding that the company "still lacks multiple major hardware partners to build its phones, while its retail presence in important countries like China remains tiny."