Andy Rubin is Googleís Ďchief Android guyí. He has a Twitter account which he seems to only use from time to time to let people know of some major new milestone regarding Android sales. Bragging, basically. Thatís just fine with us, and today heís done it again.
Google may have activated 100 million Android-powered devices since the operating system was first released and until May 10 of this year (the figure was announced during Googleís annual developer conference), but it certainly looks set to sell a lot more than that this year.
Thatís since Andy Rubin has announced that Google is now activating 500,000 Android devices each day. Furthermore, the growth is currently at 4.4% per week. Thereís really no other way to put this other than say that those numbers are great, and Androidís continued growth is not something many would have bet on even six months ago.
But it is. Growing. Sure, not at the levels seen through some of last year (not in percentage points, that is), but thatís rather normal. You can grow 900% or so at the beginning of your lifespan, since your base number is so low. You obviously canít do that (in terms of sheer percentage points, remember) later on, because, well, itís just impossible.
Yet Google is showing us that Android still has the resources to grow. If Google were to continue activating exactly 500K devices each day, over the next year it would sell 182.5 million. Of course thatís probably not going to happen if the growth continues, but itís a number you can use to try and decipher the scale of this mobile operating system.
Google started 2011 with 300,000 devices activated each day. Then, in April, it reached 350,000, and 400,000 in May. Now, just before half of this year is over, theyíre at 500K.
So letís play a quick numbers game. Letís assume that Google activates 500K Android devices each day for the remainder of this year. Letís also assume that it has activated exactly 400K per day since the day they reported that number, 350K since the day they reported that number, and so on. A simplified calculation then brings us to a conservative estimate of Android devices shipped this year (itís conservative because it assumes there will be no more growth from now on for six months, which is not something that has ever happened in Androidís short history).
153.1 million Android devices would be shipped from January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2011 following the above rough math. Of course, almost anything can change and therefore impact these numbers. Androidís growth over the past few weeks may have also had something (albeit perhaps not much) to do with Apple not releasing a new iPhone in June as it usually does. Some people may have gotten Android devices instead of continuing to wait for new Apple hardware Ė although only about three weeks have passed since we found out for sure that the new iPhone will come later, so this effect, even if real, couldnít have been the only driver of Androidís growth.
Letís look at another number, also resulting from the above calculation. By the end of this year, if activations stay at the 500K level, Google would have sold 213 million Android devices since the OS was first released.
So while it took Google two and a half years to activate 100 million Android devices, the next hundred million is bound to happen in little over 7 months. And, again, thatís considering that there will be no further growth.
If Google does indeed arrive at the 200 million mark at the end of this year, it will have reached that number for its mobile operating system about a year faster than Apple was able to. Back at the beginning of June, Apple reported that it had sold 200 million iOS devices. Since 2007 when the first iPhone was launched, thatís roughly 4 years. Google launched the T-Mobile G1 in October 2008 Ė so roughly three years.
Now letís look at the competition. Nokia sold about 24 million smartphones during the first quarter of this year (thatís the latest data we have since the second quarter is due to end in a few days). Now letís say Nokia will manage to sell exactly that number of smartphones through each future quarter, even though thatís clearly not going to happen. Why? Because no one wants to buy Symbian devices anymore since the February 11 announcement that the OS is basically dead. Because no one will really want to get a fancy new N9, when Nokiaís plan is to not ever make another ďMeeGoĒ phone even if the N9 somehow manages to become successful. As for Nokiaís upcoming Windows Phone 7 Nokia N9 clones, umm, sorry, devices, those will only be available in limited quantities this year, so even if they sell all their stock, itís probably not going to impact the yearly smartphone sales a lot.
Okay, so letís, just for the fun of it, say Nokia will sell 24 million smartphones each quarter from now on. Thatís 96 million smartphones for 2011. Which would make Android sales about 60% more than Nokiaís, the king of smartphones until the beginning of this year.
What about Apple? Itís a bit trickier here, because Apple doesnít publish the quarterly numbers for how many iPod touch devices it sells, rather just an ĎiPodí category which includes every iPod model. So for the sake of this quick analysis, weíll assume that half of all iPods sold by Apple in the first quarter of this year were iPod touch devices. That gives us 27.85 million iOS devices in Q1. Letís round that up to 28. Now if Apple will sell the same number of devices each subsequent quarter of this year, the total sales of iOS devices for 2011 would be 112 million. Androidís number would be 36% higher.
Of course, Appleís numbers will probably keep growing. Thereís no reason not to, with the companyís devices becoming available in more and more markets, and with the upcoming new iPhone set to trigger some new enthusiasm for the iOS platform.
Then again, Android has no reason to stop its growth either. And keep in mind that as of now, tablets are almost nothing in Androidís market share. If Android tablets really do take off, the growth of the OS may accelerate once more. Donít think thatís possible? Remember that Samsungís two new Android tablets, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and 8.9, are still not released in most of the world. Also remember how Samsungís Galaxy S from last year managed to get on more than 100 carriers worldwide. If Samsung pulls the same distribution feat with the tablets, thereís no telling how much they can sell. So letís wait and see.