June 30, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
Google VP of Engineering Andy Rubin revealed yesterday that more than 500,000 Android devices are activated each day. That’s a 30 percent increase from the 350,000 activation total that Google Chairman Eric Schmidt shared in February, loudly beating the drum that Android’s growth is accelerating beyond what even the most optimistic person could have expected.
Just how much can that growth accelerate?
After Tuesday’s announcement, Androinica.com immediately started wondering when Google could reach the 1 million daily activation. It’s a lofty number to reach, but after taking a look at some trends and other reports, we’ve come up with a theory: Google will reach 1 million daily activations of Android devices by New Year’s time.
That’s right, folks, there’s a good chance that the number of Android devices activated for the first time could double by the end of the year. It should be noted that Android could just as easily falter and not reach 600,000, but if current trends hold, we think it’s safe to say that Google will reach the million-per-day milestone before the year is out.
Here’s how we arrived at the number
It’s hard to pinpoint numbers to track Android’s growth because there’s no solid way to measure the increase of new devices. Google sporadically announces new numbers and says only “more than X new devices” rather than “501,391 new devices.” As a result, we must estimate.
Andy Rubin’s tweet added the nugget that Android enjoys 4.4 percent in week-over-week growth. Executive Editor Stephane Dion then went back to previous milestones to apply a more conservative 4 percent growth to see if that is consistent up until today’s announcement. Dion guessed that the number of daily activations was 320,000 with a net growth of 4,500 new activations on January 1st. With a growth percentage of 4, the activation number should include an additional 4,680 the following week. That led to consistent increases that just about gelled with the numbers Google reported in February, May, and June.
Believing that Android’s growth rate will have to taper off eventually – hey, there are only so many people looking for a new phone – we theorized that the number of daily activations will not rise likeit has in H1 2011. That thought was strengthened by analyst firm Needham & Co. suggesting that the iPhone’s arrival on Verizon put a small dent in Android’s U.S. market share, and Nielsen reporting today that Android is losing ground among recent smartphone buyers. Considering that more Verizon customers who may have been waiting on the iPhone will be eligible for upgrades later this year, and new smartphone customers may be swayed into Apple’s corner because of iOS 5, it stands to reason that Android may not be as much of a runaway success as it has been.
Million Phone March
Theorizing that a dip in the growth rate should play-out in the later half of the year, we introduced a progressive decline that eventually leads to the number of daily activations reaching the 1 million mark at some point in December. The basis for these estimates prevent any hope of predicting an exact date, but we think that it happen around Christmas-time. (Note: If you subscribe to the more optimistic view of Google’s growth remaining consistent, it could reach 1 million daily activations by Thanksgiving.)
We then took a look at the final column on our chart and noticed that the total number of activations under our model should produce about 215 million new Android devices in 2011. That’s higher than estimates from the IDC analyst firm, which says 450 million smartphones will be sold in 2011. Under IDC’s model, Android should only have 39.5% of those sales (177 million).
Androinica.com is not saying that these are definitive numbers; in fact, we’re openly admitting that this is completely a guessing game because there are no solid numbers to use as a foundation for any forecast. However, we think it’s likely that Android will be big enough to bring 1 million new users into the fold in one day this holiday season.
There are obviously some problems that could get in the way of that happening, namely the fruit-based company that we mentioned earlier. The pool of new users is expected to grow a great deal this year, but there’s no guarantee that Android will be able to catch them all. The end of U.S. iPhone exclusivity, Symbian’s falling but still sizable hold of the European market, and a struggling global economy may be challenging hurdles in Android’s breakaway success.
With that said, don’t be surprised if Andy Rubin has another eye-popping tweet at the end of the year.