Nielsen is once again trudging out a survey saying Android outsold iPhone and BlackBerry in the US. So once again we'll trudge out this kindly, helpful reality check:

  • Android is platform, not a phone.
  • Android is free, you can't buy it.
  • iPhone is not a platform, it's a phone.
  • iPhone, you can buy.

So did Google's own Nexus One outsell iPhone? No, of course not. Android is great OS running on spectacular hardware. However, its used by multiple manufacturers on multiple carriers in multiple models in the US. iPhone is made by Apple and runs on AT&T on the US. Now if Droid X outsold iPhone, that would be a proper comparison. Moto vs. Apple, Android vs. iOS, Verizon vs. AT&T. Hey, I'd pay to see that in the consumer Octagon any day.

Daring Fireball's John Gruber makes an argument that if Apple ever got on Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile USA the comparison might be more meaningful, as it is now in countries like Canada where iPhone is on 3 major carriers and their subsidiaries. Apple still offers one phone (or one current phone and one holdover from the year before) while RIM offers a variety of 1st party BlackBerrys and Google licensees offer a variety of 3rd party Androids. If the US were like that at least we'd be able to see what if any differences those three business models bring to the market.

Android as a platform, given its license, is surely going to eclipse any solitary handset by anyone else, including Apple (unless and until Verizon forks it into its own, proprietary V-OS, but that's another post).

For now, Nielsen's survey and the headlines rapidly making their way around the blogsphere might as well read:

BREAKING!! Protein outsells golden delicious apples in the US!

Absolutely true, and absolutely meaningless.

[GigaOM via Daring Fireball]