Google’s Victory is Not Apple’s Defeat


In a few weeks at WWDC, Apple fans can expect an exciting Keynote. Likely topics include OS X Lion, iCloud, and iOS 5, as well as news on the state of Apple and its products and platforms. In the past, that has included data on the ever-increasing number of iOS devices sold and growth of the platform, and the same can be expected this year; just don’t expect any more comparisons between iOS and Android on activations.

Tuesday, at the Google I/O Developer Conference, among announcements about a unified Android OS and Google music storage, there was also new information on Android’s growth, including a new record of 400,000 activations of per day. If past pronouncements apply, those activations only include devices that use Google services, with the vast majority being smartphones, not that it matters no matter how the numbers are counted. Android has passed iOS( not just the iPhone), in terms of sheer volume, for good.

Apple reported approximately 26 million iOS devices sold for the quarter ending in March. That number includes 16.2 million iPhones and 4.7 million iPads, and an estimated 5 million iPod touch devices. The latter is estimated because Apple does not break out iPods by model, but the company has repeatedly stated more than half of iPod sales are the iPod touch. In terms of activations, that works out to around 289,000 activations per day; far below Google’s latest numbers.

Of course, iPad supplies were constrained during the last quarter, but selling an iPad to everyone that wants one won’t change the numbers, either. By the end of June, Google should easily be activating 450,000 devices per day. Even assuming Apple sells 9 million iPads, 20 million iPhones, and 6 million iPod touches, that works out to 35 million iOS devices, or only 389,000 activations per day.

It’s over; Google and Android have won, at least in market share. But that’s not the whole story, at least not going by Google’s Android numbers from yesterday.

  • 100 million activated Android devices
  • 200,000 free and paid applications available in Android Market
  • 4.5 billion applications installed from Android Market
  • 400,000 new Android devices activated every day

To put those numbers in perspective, it took Apple three years to sell 100 million iOS devices, compared to 2.5 years for Google and Android. It took Apple 22 months to reach 200,000 apps and 4.5 billion downloads, 30 months for Google to do the same. For whatever reason, the Android Market has been slow to launch internationally, in about half as many countries as Apple, but both companies cover the major markets. More importantly, what’s missing from Android’s bullet list of accomplishments is revenue data.

According to IHS, app revenue for 2010 clearly favors Apple’s App Store by an enormous margin, and apparently there are no shocking numbers from Google to suggest that’s changed much yet. However, even should the Android Market see revenue growth in line with market share, it won’t matter to those using iOS devices. As was reported last month, Apple has paid out $2 billion in revenue to developers, eight months after it paid out the first billion. It’s hard to argue against the iOS platform being self-sustaining at this point, and that’s what should matter to developers and consumers. Unlike during the 90s with the Mac, iOS users won’t have to worry about finding apps and services in the future, no matter how many activations Android reaches per day.

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