By Jason Venter | 01-02-2013 | 9:00PM

2012 offered different things to different people. To the people at Google, the year brought resounding success for its Android operating system, which an SF Gate article today indicates was installed on 75 percent of the 181.1 million smartphones that shipped in the year’s third quarter.

SF Gate’s numbers appear to come from the IDC’s November 2012 report. The market analytics group keeps a close eye on smartphone sales and use. Its numbers show the Android operating system’s market share jumping 91 percent in 2012’s third quarter, versus the same period in 2011. Though Android has been around for a number of years (Google bought it in 2005 but the first smartphone to utilize it didn’t come until 2008), the open operating system seems only recently to have come into its own.

As noted in the SF Gate story, Android is used on a variety of devices, not just in smartphones and tablets. Google itself uses the operating system to power a robot that makes designs in employee’s coffee foam, for instance, and other manufacturers have used the code in microwaves and other general household devices that you might not suspect would even need an operating system. The full range of possible uses is up to those who are manufacturing new projects, not to Google itself, and not all manufacturers will feel motivated to continue updating their devices to allow new versions of Android to operate.

Andy Rubin, the senior vice president in charge of Android, explained how Google itself feels about the variety of uses people have found for the increasingly popular operating system: “People are going to do dumb things with it. And if they are actually dumb, it’ll fail. But if they build something that’s awesome, I can learn from it. … It’s a mistake to think that one company can create the world’s innovations.”

That last remark comes across as a thinly-veiled dig at Apple, a competitor with the sort of success that must have at one point seemed out of reach to Google, despite the “walled garden” approach that limits iOS availability to devices that Apple itself has manufactured. There’s clearly some contrast in how the two competitors approach the smart device market, and both companies have found enviable success through their own approaches.

Hiroshi Lockheimer, vice president of engineering for Android, offered a succinct comment that explains how Google can benefit from widespread adoption of an operating system it provides at no cost to developers. “In the end, we’re an advertising company and we make money through ads,” he said. It stands to reason that the company would work to eliminate any barriers that might get in the way of access to the Google site and services.

Android’s continued success through the end of 2012 is likely the precursor to an even more successful series of quarters in 2013. As Android adoption continues to soar and developers such as Samsung and HTC offer additional devices built to utilize the operating system, the future is looking very bright indeed for the world’s lovers of technology.