Tim Cook on Android activations: Apple's numbers are straight forward, transparent, quarterly

Tim Cook on Android activations: Apple's numbers are straight forward, transparent, quarterly

During today's Q3 2011 conference call, Apple Chief Operating Office, Tim Cook was asked about Android activation numbers being higher than Apple iOS numbers. Cook's response, paraphrased:

Android's activation numbers are difficult to get our hands around. Apple numbers are from a data sheet, add iPhone, iPad, an approximately 50% iPods sold are iPod touch. Apple sold over 33 million iOS devices. Now over 222 million cumulative devices. [Apple's activation] numbers are very straight forward, transparent, quarterly. iPhone is up 142%, more than 2x rate of market growth. Incredible. Apple sold every iPad 2 we could make.

Which is really more of a non-answer. By saying Android activation numbers are "difficult to get their hands around", Cook is implying that Google's "activations" might not be the same as Apple's "devices sold". In other words, that Android's numbers are somehow being over-reported. The numbers in question, from Google's Q2 2011 conference call:

CEO Larry Page announced that some 550,000 devices are being activated every day. That's about 382 devices being activated every minute, or 3.85 million every week.

I have no idea what the math works out to over the length of the quarter (, which is more than Apple's 33 million. Cook then went on the offensive, though stopped short of echoing previous quarters' comments about Google being fragmented and derivative. Instead, he focused on Apple's positives, including the quantity of apps in general and iPad apps in specific, contrasting Apple's 100,000 to Android's "hundreds". He also highlighted money paid to developers, and consumer satisfaction.

Which is a compelling answer, just not to this particular question.

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Tim Cook on Android activations: Apple's numbers are straight forward, transparent, quarterly


He dodged it but I like his focus on Apple positive points. Kudos for steering the ship properly: don't pick a (numbers) fight you can win.

Well look at what Apple is doing now. Sueing people left and right. I do agree with merging them and having a perfect device.

Oh come on. Apple GETS sued all the time and more so as of late as the proverbial pie keeps getting bigger and bigger. The most sue-happy company is still Microsoft by trying to influence Android so it can sell its Windows Phone crap.

Apple made $4bn+ profit from iOS this quarter. Google made $1bn all of last year from Android. As long as people don't stop buying iPhones (which they are not), Apple has little care for the success of google. They're are different business models; Google is going for high-marketshare : lower-profit, Apple is going for lower-marketshare : higher-profit.

If they weren't worried about Android they wouldn't sue over "clicking a number and opening the phone app". Petty stuff.
You're 100% wrong about Apple going for lower-marketshare. They never set out or changed course to shoot to have a lower marketshare. It just so happened they lost that battle and now everyone [Apple lovers] hang their hat on "[we] don't sell the most but we overcharge more than anyone else"...oops, I mean we make more profit.

"Or roughly 49 million, which is more than Apple’s 33 million."
Your math is clearly wrong here. Apple SOLD 33 million iOS devices in Q3 (June quarter). Android did not, on average, ACTIVATE 550,000 devices per day in that quarter. On June 28th, it was 500,000 a day. That's the end of the quarter. In the middle of May at Google IO (middle of the quarter) it was 400,000 a day. So over the whole quarter it was more like 37 million activations, maybe a little bit more, but clearly not 49 million.

"My co-workers have free android phones and if you ask them if they would rather have an iPhone, it's usually a definite yes"
I hate that, most people see Apple as the next Nike, it's a brand, then device could be shit & they still want it.
Only 1 of my friends have an iPhone3gs & I Sondheim the it after I got my iPhone4, but when I ask anyone they want an iPhone but they don't know why or even know what you can do on the device.
They think it's an all singing all dancing phone, when infact it's not :(
Like on all Android phones you can choose your browser or SMS app that will have different features, I don't like my iphone4 for 2 massive reasons,

  1. No quick reply, Apples way it not intuitive, it's cumbersome & takes away from what you were doing. (I have to JB for this)
  2. No way to disable the recent ist in the Multitasking bar, hat that.

I do though love my iPad, of which I typed this.

I activated my Droid Eris, then a moto Droid, then a Samsung galaxy S, then back to my moto Droid. Four activations under the same account, Google probably counts those as four new activations when optimus should probably be counted as one under the same account. There are so many android devices that do not work well and people such as my self keep switching from one to another.

I would like to see how apple's numbers go up once they release the iPhone 3GS for free, iPhone 4 for 100 and the newest version for 200 across as many carriers as possible. Three tier levels for all budgets, one version of their OS.

I agreed until the "one version of their iOS" part. It isn't one version as the 3Gs will have limitations and the Verizon iOS is slightly different than Apple.

Of course Apple's numbers will be a little easier to see, Apple sells products. Google isn't selling anything but ads. They can only track when something is activated. Apple can just look at how many times an iPhone SKU was scanned anywhere in the world.
If you really want to get into it we should ask Apple which sales they are counting. Sales to carriers/partners/resellers or just to end users?

It's simple, every time you have to reset your android device you have to register it again. Unlike Apple android devices have to be wiped and reset more often therefor making for more registrations.

@PimpLucious No it didn't. He has four devices and he's saying he each activation is counted. Basically he's referring to unique users vs individual devices not wiping a phone, activating, and it count as two activations.
Erroneous enough for you? ;-) #pleasereadpeople

@PimpLucious ...and btw, we're saying the same thing. I just provided a link to back up what you said.
Apple counts one user having 4 devices the same as Google counting one user activating 4 devices. Same thing.

Look, I work for vdub and have th iPhone I like it but I loved my droid and yes I mean droid as in droid 2 ( hated the keyboard) but I am switching back because of the interface. It's just too simple. I miss the widgets, the customization of the home screens, the picture posting to social nets, and swype which is bar none the best keyboard I've ever used. IOS is the most STABLE os I have ever used and the reason I switched in the first place but it's just not enough for me. Both ecosystems are outstanding but iOS just isn't for me. But I just don't get this Android vs iOS consumer competition. Both are great, it's all about preference because they are both great. Let the two company's push eachother for innovation and we all benefit. But as consumers we should relax and enjoy and press only the companies involved.