UPDATED: Google (s GOOG) is activating half a million Android devices a day, a big jump in just the last couple months, a sign of growing momentum for the platform. Google’s VP of mobile Andy Rubin tweeted out the new milestone, saying activations are growing 4.4 percent week over week.
At Google I/O in early May, the company boasted that activations were up to 400,000 a day with 100 million cumulative device activations, representing 36 OEMS, 215 Carriers and 310 devices. The pace of growth has been staggering for Android, which hit the 100,000 activations per day milestone in May 2010. By December 2010, that number was up to 300,000 a day.
Now with Honeycomb (an Android variant) tablets hitting the market, the device activations are being supplemented by larger tablet devices, not just smartphones. Indeed, almost every company is putting out a tablet these days, most built off of Google’s Android operating system. The rise of Android has helped lift the fortunes of a number of companies, making HTC a household name and at the same time helping Samsung emerge as a major player in smartphones.
All this growth has not come without headaches. Fragmentation is still an issue. Developers are still not seeing the same type of money making opportunities they experience on iOS. Developers are also now having to face patent cases from Lodsys, the patent troll that has turned its eyes toward Android. Malicious apps are also a growing concern for Android users. And as Android grows, it makes it more of a target for patent royalties by companies looking to extract more out of their patent portfolios. Just yesterday, General Dynamics Itronix agreed to pay Microsoft (s MSFT) for use of patented technology found in Android, an agreement similar to one HTC also struck with Microsoft.
The more royalty payments manufacturers pay out, the more it undercuts Android’s promise of being a free platform. But with all the momentum it’s seen, Google’s Android seems hardly fazed.
UPDATE: Some of the commenters are curious about what the activation number represents. I reached out to Google and a representative said that it does not include upgrades and only includes devices that run Google services. So forks of Android built by some Asian manufacturers who don’t license Google services would presumably not be counted. I wasn’t able to get a geographic or device category break down so there’s still some question about how it all shakes out. But this gives us a little better insight into what activations represent. Will update if I can find more.