With less than 12 hours to go until Apple gets on stage and shows off the next version of iOS, Google’s Andy Rubin (pictured above, left), the father of Android, used Twitter to announce to the world that over 900,000 devices running his mobile OS are being activated on a daily basis. That’s 81 million every quarter, or almost 330 million every year. Andy also squashed the rumors that say he’s going to leave the search giant, though to be perfectly honest we never even heard about those rumors in the first place.
What should you take away from this new number? Consider this: Research firm IDC says 1.5 billion mobile phones shipped in 2011, 11.1% more than in 2010. Applying Google’s rate of 900,000 units per day to that 1.5 billion figure, and assuming growth in 2012 is the same as growth in 2011, means roughly one out of every five mobile phones that will be sold this year will have Android onboard. Half a decade ago we were impressed that Symbian had such a large share of the smartphone market, larger than Android’s share today, but back then the smartphone market was incredibly tiny compared to the phone market as a whole. Now the smartphone market is exploding, and five years from now we may be asking ourselves if people are still interested in devices that can’t do more than voice calls and SMS.
To understand the future, just look at Samsung. They were early supporters of Android and now the majority of their portfolio is powered by Google’s mobile operating system. Nokia meanwhile continues to depend on the ultra low margin, high volume sales of their feature phones to sustain their business. Is shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone when Samsung overtook Nokia to become the world’s largest phone maker earlier this year. The South Korean company is focusing on growth markets, while Nokia is milking the feature phone market while their brand still remains relevant.
This raises an important question: When will the last feature phone be announced?