As part of Google's event last night, it showed the following chart for Android tablet activations. The source is marked as 'IDC, Gartner and internal Google data' - which is odd, because you would think that Google's own data would be enough for this.
If I eyeball this chart and back out the numbers, the result looks something like this.
Clearly, there's an interpretation of this that says Android is eating iPad's sales.
However, there are two problems with this. The first is the cyclicality issue I explored in a post yesterday (just before this chart was used).
The second, and bigger one, is usage data like this, from Chitika. I'm not, as a general rule, a huge fan of ad network traffic data, but this chart shows numbers that pretty much every web publisher also sees - iPad is 80-90% of tablet web use, and (in the USA) Fire is another 5%. Fire isn't included in Android activations. So Android is maybe 10-15% of use.
Yet Google claims there are 70m Android tablets. Apple has sold 155m iPads and probably only 125m of those are still in use. So those 70m Android tablets are 35% or so of the install base - but 10-15% of the traffic.
There are three possible interpretations of this:
- These tablets are being bought in emerging markets (but not China, since Chinese devices generally aren't activated and so won't be in these numbers) and not using western sites
- They're being bought in developed markets and being used much less, or not at all
- They're being bought and not used for the internet - they're cheap kids' tablets, baby monitors, points of sale devices...
The truth is probably a mix of the three. But this doesn't easily lend itself to a simple 'people are buying cheap Androids instead of iPads' narrative. In particular, the tiny share of Nexus sales suggests that people buying these devices are much less interested in a good experience than in the lowest POSSIBLE price.