I was installing Java today and this was shown in the installation. Is there anything that supports this claim?

3 billion devices run Java

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    Java essentially runs inside of its own virtual machine. This property allows Java code to be extremely portable, and run on almost any modern computing device, including cell phones. Many "feature phones" run entirely on Java, as do most cell phones between 5-8 years old. 3 billion devices may be an exaggeration, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's close to accurate. If it's a sufficiently advanced computing device, more often than not it has Java in it somewhere. EDIT: as far as hard numbers go, I don't have any, though I doubt you'd find any source that isn't traced back to Sun. – Crimius Jun 18 '12 at 18:00
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    I read this claim as 3 billion devices could run java not that they are running java. Which is a much less impressive claim. – Chad Jun 18 '12 at 18:35
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    @Chad: that may be the actual situation, but the sentence is clear: "3 billion devices run Java", not "are able to run", not "could run", not "may run", simply "run", so there is no other possible interpretation (marketing aside). – nico Jun 19 '12 at 5:52
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    @KonradRudolph: first of all smartphones still don't dominate cell phone market in numbers (they do in cash, as they are more expensive), second many of the crappy BREW or S40 phones are (or at least used to) be classified as smartphones. Although lately they've being named "featurephones". – vartec Jun 19 '12 at 13:29
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    Now, three and a half years later oracle still displays the exact same ad when running the java updater.... – Willem Hengeveld Nov 2 '15 at 8:24

There is actually some more detail on this on the Java website:

  • 1.1 billion desktops run Java
  • 930 million Java Runtime Environment downloads each year
  • 3 billion mobile phones run Java
  • 31 times more Java phones ship every year than Apple and Android combined
  • 100% of all Blu-ray players run Java
  • 1.4 billion Java Cards are manufactured each year
  • Java powers set-top boxes, printers, Web cams, games, car navigation systems, lottery terminals, medical devices, parking payment stations, and more.

Which comes from the Learn about Java Technology webpage. These numbers can be drilled down into a bit more (e.g. blu-ray sales, PCs with Windows installed 1, etc.) but the figure they give in the setup actually seems to be fairly conservative.

With regards to some specific claims, Blu-ray players have to support BD-J which is used to for bonus content on Blu-ray disks which is why Blu-ray players must support Java.

One of the biggest areas of use of Java is in Java Cards which are smart cards containing embedded Java based programs that can be run on various devices. While Oracle cited a number of 1 billion units manufactured in 2007 back in 2008, others have noted total cumulative sales of about 5 billion units in 2007. This is another point that leads to the 3 billion devices claimed perhaps being a conservative estimate.

  1. In truth the number of Windows PCs sold by year isn't the best number, but generally OEM machines generally ship with Java installed by default so this is a soft number to work with.
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    "3 billion mobile phones run Java" is a direct quote from the Website, but definitely begs for a citation. – Larry OBrien Jun 18 '12 at 20:46
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    this assumes that "runs" and "is capable of running" is same thing. Also, many PCs don't come with Java pre-installed. – vartec Jun 19 '12 at 8:07
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    @SamIAm - Likely they mean one that is running the JavaPhone API and that is likely going to be run by lower end phones than smartphones, for example clamshell cell phones. – rjzii Jun 19 '12 at 15:00
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    "31 times more Java phones ship every year than Apple and Android combined" - Android's native apps are written using java. I would have included androids in "mobile phones that use java".... – Ephraim Jun 19 '12 at 17:42
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    More that 5 years later still 3 billions. They must be stopped counting... – Yura Ivanov Jan 19 '18 at 14:50

3 Billion seems reasonable based on the number of Java ME and Android devices in use.

There is a fair amount of evidence corroborating the "3 Billion devices" powered by Java - in fact there are likely be close to that number running Java ME (Micro Edition). This includes most of the low-cost phones currently being sold in China and India. There are also some 200 million active Android devices as of late 2011, with Android is still the fastest-growing mobile operating system. These should also be included.

Java ME makes up the bulk of this number, and is still available on most current-model phones that aren't Apple, Android or Windows Mobile, as well as practically all phones prior to iPhone/Android, going back as far as 2001.

For example, Nokia lists 338 handsets that they have released that support Java ME, dating back to the monochrome-screened 3410 in 2001. All Nokia OS and Symbian OS devices were Java ME compatible.

Motorola, RIM (Blackberry), Ericsson (now Sony Ericsson), Samsung, LG, Sagem, Sharp, Siemens, and others all have licenses for and have released phones based on Java ME.

This site claims close to 6 billion active mobile subscriptions, the CIA factbook claims 5.4 Billion(2010) which would put just over half as "run Java".

It should be noted that while many devices use a great deal of the Java ME stack, others (e.g. Symbian) are not java-based but allow Java ME applications to be run. Symbian also supports:

  • C++ (Qt, native)
  • python
  • Adobe Flash lite
  • Ruby

For application development. It's difficult to argue that a Symbian device is "powered by Java", and indeed many Symbian users have likely never run a Java ME application on their phone. But Oracle only claim "3 Billion devices run Java", and if you interpret that statement in a certain way it's probably fair.

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    Why are you excluding Android in your calculation? Android is Java. Large parts of it are written in Java. – Konrad Rudolph Jun 19 '12 at 8:10
  • Indeed, @KonradRudolph is correct in that Android is Java and should not be excluded from the equation. A lot of Java developers are able to dabble in mobile device development due to Android being Java based. – rjzii Jun 19 '12 at 12:11
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    @SamIAm 2011 metrics versus 2010 metrics, the article linked in the answer even notes it is a significant increase from the previous year. – rjzii Jun 19 '12 at 14:58
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    @RobZ I know. I read it. I was just noting another source, the World Factbook, which agrees with the stats given here (for 2010) – Sam I Am Jun 19 '12 at 15:06
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    @jozzas As far as Oracle are concerned, Android devices do not run Java. People writing apps for Android write them in Java, but then there is a step where they compile them into a "Dalvik" application, rather than a Java one, and the app runs in a Dalvik VM not a Java VM, so there is no Java actually run on the device. Sounds like semantics but Oracle have just been to court over this exact bit of semantics. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dalvik_%28software%29 – GAThrawn Jun 25 '12 at 13:24

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