By the Numbers: A History of the Android Invasion

Love it or hate it, Google’s Android platform continues to storm the mobile market and is now seeing 350,000 device activations per day. The company shared this datapoint on its quarterly earnings call last night, which puts the annual activation rate of Android smartphones, tablets and other devices at a staggering 127.75 million Androids in a year’s time. That assumes sales won’t slow down, and in fact, they’ve recently been growing faster than any other mobile platform even though the first Android phone debuted in October 2008.
To put that in perspective: last September, Apple claimed it shipped 120 million iOS devices over the prior three years. Google is on pace to surpass that number in the next 12 months alone, if not sooner, staking its flag at the top of “Mount Mobile” in a shorter time than competitors. Given the quick rise of Android in 2.5 years and the fact that as of the final quarter of 2010, it was the top-selling smartphone platform, here’s a brief historical timeline of how Google’s, and its hardware partners’, journey to top-dog has progressed to date:
  • October 2008. The first Google Android handset, the G1, launches in the U.S. and the U.K.
  • October 2009. Android really starts to hit its stride with the release of version 2.0 and the Motorola Droid.
  • May 2010. At the Google I/O developer event, the company shares it has 100,000 daily Android activations with attendees.
  • June 2010. In a conference call, Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, mentions the company now sees 160,000 Android activations per day. If accurate, it’s likely that the prior month’s data was actually outdated or understated.
  • July 2010. HTC announces a 63-percent annual jump in handset revenues, mainly due to migrating its smartphone portfolio from Microsoft Windows Mobile to Google Android phones.
  • December 2010. Google introduces Android 2.3, aka: Gingerbread, and Google’s Andy Rubin, in charge of the Android team, tweets that 300,000 activations take place each day.
  • February 2011. Honeycomb, the Android version for tablets, officially launches, although it will take several months before a wide variety of devices become available and bolster the activation numbers.
  • April 2011. Google announces 350,000 daily activations during its quarterly investor call.
If the timeline doesn’t impress, perhaps this visualization of Android activations over time, put together by Google in February, will help.

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