Android surges as iOS slows — comparing the growth of Android to iOS

By Kathleen De Vere Comment

On September 5, Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt revealed the Android operating system is now seeing 1.3 million activations a day and that there have been more than 480 million total Android device activations. Impressive numbers, but what does it mean for the growth of the Android platform relative to iOS?

Although the latest figure puts Android firmly ahead of iOS in terms of total numbers of devices activated, our readers will remember that Apple’s last official update came in July when CFO Peter Oppenheimer reported that more than 410 million iOS devices had been sold to date.

So while it’s hard to judge just how far ahead Android is, the numbers are still  interesting given the fact that just nine months ago, Android was lagging quite far behind iOS in terms of the total number of activated devices. During its January Q4 earnings call, Google reported it had seen 250 million Android devices activated, and four days later Apple reported it had sold over 67.8 million iOS devices during its holiday quarter, bringing the total number of devices sold to more than 315 million.

Based on the period updates Apple and Google have provided, Inside Mobile Apps has plotted the growth of both operating systems in terms of the total number of devices sold/activated.

As you can see, Android’s growth has been particularly explosive over the past year, while iOS’ platform growth has begun to level out. Of course, total devices sold doesn’t tell us much about the actual usage or market share for either platform, but it does provide some context to both companies’ updates — something that is particularly relevant given the fact that Apple is likely to announce how many iOS devices it has sold to date during next week’s iPhone 5 launch event. We’ll be watching the event closely to see if iOS sales are keeping pace with Android or if they’re falling further behind.