Blog Post

Google’s Victory is Not Apple’s Defeat

In a few weeks at WWDC, Apple (s aapl) 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 (s goog) 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.

15 Responses to “Google’s Victory is Not Apple’s Defeat”

  1. Apple does seem to have dropped the ball on the HTML5 front though. While MS is working really hard to prove HTML5 works best in IE9, it’s Google that is really taking HTML5 to new levels. Combined with the fact that people are starting to see how much more open Android is, this might very well result in a huge popularity loss for Apple’s devices and iOS.

    • Minnesota Steve

      Chriet, what is the openness of Android that people see? I know there are hard core users on the Apple and Android side who this matters to. But for the average consumer, those who make up the vast majority of buyers, what helps them make a decision? Openness? It appears to be just a good ‘ol rock-em sock-em market brawl.

  2. Martin Hill

    Just a few corrections on your figures Charles.

    Apple sold 18.7 million iPhones last quarter not 16.2 and 61% of iPods sold are now iPod touches so that makes 6.1 million. 

    As a result, Apple sold 29.5 million iOS devices last quarter or 317,000 per day on average in Q1.  Apple actually sold 400,000 iOS devices per day during November and December last year thanks to the Christmas surge.

    Also, note that Google’s figure of 400,000 per day is the current rate, not averaged over the whole quarter so you are on thin ice making too many direct comparisons.

    Apple also has an installed base of 187 million iOS devices against Google’s 100 million Android devices.  ComScore confirmed this fact when it reported a week or so ago that Apple’s iOS market share is 59% larger than Android in the USA and 116% larger in Europe. 

    In addition comparing the ramp-up of Android to iOS is also fraught with issues considering Apple was establishing and legitimizing the market while Google was filling in the staggering hunger of iphone-less carriers for an iPhone substitute. 


    • Thanks for the correction on the iPhone total, and I admit to “squishing” momentary rates of activation for Android in with Apple’s quarterly totals for iOS, but only because the trend is clear. Not even impossible quarters for Apple and iOS going forward can stop Android from leaving iOS behind. Apple just can’t keep up with Google by itself, though perhaps combined with other competitors Android can be stopped from achieving the kind of market share dominance on mobile devices that Microsoft Windows has with traditional computers. According to IDC, Windows Phone, iOS, and BlackBerry OS will account for half the world smartphone market by 2015 and be ranked in that order after Android, but I’m skeptical on what would cause Android to falter between now and then.

      • Martin Hill

        Charles, Android is already dropping in market share and is far from demonstrating it will crush iOS any time soon.

        For the first time since Android began it’s break-neck growth, NPD’s most recent data shows that Android’s share of the US smartphone market dropped quarter-to-quarter from 53% to 50% in Q1 2011.  That’s a -6% growth rate for all those Android fans enamoured with “growth rate” percentages.  ;-)

        In contrast Apple’s iPhone grew 115% to capture 28% of all smartphone sales in the USA thanks to the launch of the iPhone on Verizon.  With upcoming rumoured CDMA iPhone launches in China and possible availability on T-Mobile in the USA and the release of the iPhone 5 later in the year, this will only increase.

        So yes Android is doing well in smartphone unit sales, but in terms of the big picture it is not nearly so cut and dried and I think predictions of market dominance at this point are premature. 


  3. Oh Blah Dee Blah Dah

    RE: “It’s over; Google and Android have won, at least in market share”

    REPLY: This is like saying that Nokia “won,” when Nokia had the largest market share by units sold.

  4. Not to nitpick but Apple sold over 18M iPhones last qtr, while your busy predicting the coronation of Google to the mobile throne, Apple plugs along bringing in more revenue from the iPhone then google makes with all it’s business units and over 50% of the profit from all cell phone manufactures. As a Google stock holder I would hope they start making some money with this android hobby, I tired of paying the bills for all the free loaders. If I was them I would keep an eye on my main business before someone comes and steals it.

    • These stats and projections are b.s. I am now reading predictions that Windows Phone 7 will beat them all (ha ha).

      Just Google “OS market share” and look at and These statistics are based on HUGE sample sizes without the paid bias of Gartner, Nielsen, and the CBS cabal.

      The accurate studies show what anyone would expect — iOS has 4 times the market share of Android. Why do the other studies lie? They are manufacturing consent… CBS, in particular, has a huge and obvious bias toward Android. They own CNET, Tech Republic, and Ziff Davis. They use these as agents of manufactured consent.

      At the Google I/O conference, they said they sold a total of 100m Android phones. Apple has sold 200m — just iPhones. Then you have to add iPod touch and iPad to those numbers, because they all run the same OS. This is just more solid proof that iOS has 4 times the market share…

      More proof? Every article touting Droid domination has dozens of iOS users commenting on how this is obvious B.S. The Droid Axis can manufacture consent all they want… Consumers still buy iOS devices more than Droid. All other data is based on flawed sampling and intentional shilling for Google.

  5. pk de cville

    “…it took Apple three years to sell 100 million iOS devices, compared to 2.5 years for Google and Android.”

    True, except no.

    Google and Android sold exactly ZERO devices. They only have the R&D costs offset by ad revenue. Apple sold $BBs in profit heavy product; Google – bupkus!

    Try this “…it took Apple three years to sell 100 million iOS devices, compared to 2.5 years for”… 10 major manufacturers, 50 android device fragments (w/ 3 major forks), and 30 no name cloners racing to the bottom where the profits aren’t.

    Ironically, the Android crowd is in this to make a buck by copying iOS very quickly and I wonder when they’ll get tired of losing bucks very quickly.

    • Microsoft never sold a single PC, and we all know how that worked out for the Mac in the late 90’s. It’s not that history is repeating itself, exactly, in that this time iOS has reached the point where it can be self-sustaining despite Android’s market share dominance.

      • Yes but Microsoft also actually got paid for each copy sold and made megabucks in the process. Google makes nothing on each Android device sold. Ad revenue doesn’t make up the difference particularly with carriers like Verizon replacing google search with Bing.


    • ricazoid

      actually the nexus one and nexus s are made by google, so google did sell phones but nexuses aren’t very popular(i may be wrong)