Announced today at Android I/O, the official daily activations for Android powered devices have topped one million. Not that it was going to be a surprise as the numbers last quarter showed that the milestone would certainly have been reached even before that period ended as we pointed out in a previous analysis.
Now that the figures have been made public, we can measure how Android’s phone platform is doing compared to its arch rival, Apple’s iPhone. For those who haven’t been paying attention, Apple’s first 2012 calendar quarter saw a drop in iPhone sales from a high of 37.1 million in the final quarter of 2011 to 35.1 million.
Although the second quarter has yet to complete, Apple’s own guidance for the three months ending June 30 was for a further sequential drop in iPhone sales and many Wall Street analysts are expecting a number of 30 million (although some are suggesting that it could be as low as 27.5 million).
But hang on… Android’s activations include tablets, so we’ll need to remove those to get a comparison that’s apples-to-apples, so to speak. The most recent figures put quarterly Android tablet sales at 4.7 million units (analysts expect the iPad to sell 15 million units this quarter), so dividing Android tablet sales by 91 days means we subtract 51,600 a day from Google’s announced million activations.
That leaves us with 948,400 Android phone activations each day. Although as we noted in an earlier report, activations have averaged an increase of over 58,000/day per quarter over the history of Android, so the tablet adjustment has probably been rendered moot anyway.
So Android continues to grow while Apple, at least currently, is headed in the other direction. So why is this happening? The answer is that the iPhone, popular though it is, suffers from “new model approaching” syndrome. Practically as soon as the phone smashes its previous record sales, the inevitable “newest thing” rumours begin and potential buyers increasingly hold off for the new model. Apple customers know that there will be a newer model and when it’s likely to launch, so the closer it gets, the more sales of the current model drop.
The apparent randomness of Android handset launches means the OEMs and the platform don’t suffer from Apple’s obsessive marketing schedule drawbacks, and thus Android as a platform continues to grow steadily, without the peaks and troughs the iPhone is prone to.
The upside of Apple’s approach is the enormous interest and hype each launch generates, and the massive sales spike that accompanies it. Last year’s peak was received with something approaching rapture by the iFaithful, media and bloggers worldwide. You’d have thought it was the second coming. Expect a similar hysteria when the “new iPhone”, with its rumoured 4” 16:9 screen, launches in late September*.
(*If it doesn’t launch then, I’ll eat my Ken Block trucker’s cap).