Andy Rubin: Google Activates 500,000 Android Devices A Day

In what is perhaps a sympton of Google’s social ineptitude (sorry guys, truth hurts), Andy Rubin, who is in a lot of ways the face of Android, rarely tweets. And not in the once-or-twice-a-week way like you. He’s sent five tweets since October of 2010, despite having 30,000 followers. Yet when he does tweet, it usually makes headlines. Like today’s announcement that Android now activates 500,000 devices a day.

To put that in perspective, think about what you did this weekend. Me? I spent a few hours hanging out with some friends at my house. Watched some old episodes of Heroes (the good seasons, not the later crap). Played some WoW, hiked a mountain. What did Google do this weekend? Activate a million phones. A million. In two days. More perspective: in the U.S., Verizon activated 2.2 million iPhones in Q1 of 2011 (which was actually about two months, since it launched in the middle of the quarter). Now, the 500,000 number is worldwide, so don’t spazz out, but it’s still an impressive number.

Made even crazier by the fact that this number was just 400,000 a day a month and a half ago at Google I/O. This would lead one to believe that reports of Android’s unrelenting momentum has flatlined have been greatly exaggerated. In case you missed the math part of the tweet, Rubin goes on to say that Android’s activation numbers are increasing at a rate of 4.4% week-over-week. This means that one week after Google I/O, Google was activating 417,000 devices. Two weeks, 436,000. If this rate were to keep up, we’d be looking at 600,000 by the beginning of August, 700,000 by the end of August, and a million daily activations before the end of October. Even if the rate of acceleration decreases, the momentum is staggering.

So, where does that leave us? Interestingly, this news is the worst, not to Apple, but to WP7. Apple’s been maintaining a healthy share in the worldwide market, and even fired a blue shell at Android with the Verizon iPhone 4. However, from Microsoft’s perspective, the situation is less than ideal. Gartner reports that, in Q1 of 2011, WP7 sold around 1.6 million handsets. Worldwide. It’s certainly nothing to sneeze at. In fact, it’s better than Android was pulling in when it was WP7’s age. But the market is very different today.

If there’s one thing Microsoft knows, it’s the power of an entrenched platform. Mango, the much-needed update to WP7 still isn’t due out for a few months, and Nokia is promising to deliver some hardware by the end of the year at best. It’s no secret to our readers that many of us at the Noisecast want WP7 to do well, however, Microsoft’s patience may be a bit of a downfall here if they can’t at least push their product to sell more right now.

To be clear, WP7’s chief rival is Android. As we’ve expressed before, the three platforms to watch for the future are Android, iOS, and WP7, however Android and WP7 have one key connection that iOS doesn’t have: they both target all market segments. At the moment, WP7 focuses primarily on high-end and mid-range smartphones, but the platform is designed to be extensible, to have multiple hardware partners, and exist on as many carriers as possible, in order to maximize sales. iOS does not do this. If you want an iPhone, you had better be prepared to have two thick slabs of glass on your device and no physical keyboard. The market segment that is not ok with this is simply out of Apple’s target demo, and that’s how it will always be. It works for them.

Android’s growth is not a threat to Apple, because Apple’s ecosystem can peacefully coexist inside Apple’s garden. WP7, however, is designed to be part of a broader platform, and needs to appeal to a wide range of consumers in various different market segments. Market segments that, at the moment, are flocking to Android to the tune of 15 million users a month, or 45 million a quarter. Compared to WP7’s 1.6 million.

There’s still time. Android was out for a full year before the Droid came along and shook things up. And whatever device Nokia releases running Mango could very well be that same kind of Droid moment for WP7. However, this acceleration highlights just how necessary it is that Microsoft gets this right. The platform can’t handle another year of watching from the sidelines as their competitors experience this kind of growth.

So come on, Microsoft, Nokia. Let’s get this thing started. And kudos to you Google……now when can I get that Galaxy S II stateside?

Source: @arubin (Twitter)

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