Android shipments to grow 900% this year? No. I say it’s 1800%!

Google’s Android phone shipments will grow 900% (as in ten times) this year, says Strategy Analytics.

Now that is some impressive growth. If it continues just for a little while, soon all other mobile OSes will be left far behind and Google will have the same dominant market share in smartphones as currently has in search.

Wow….

Except for one smallish thingie. The one data point that you don’t see in these 900% growth headlines – are the actual numbers. And, without these numbers, the “900% growth” headline is virtually meaningless. Especially when you consider other factors at play here.

I am not sure what the sales of Android devices were at the end of 2008, but I am sure that they were pretty small. Let’s do some quick, “back of the envelope” calculations.

The only Android device on sale in 2008 was HTC G1. It was available in U.S. since 0ct. 22. That’s only a bit more than 2 months of sales  in 2008. Considering that it took T-Mobile 6 months (until April 2009) to sell 1 mil. of G1s, let’s generously assume that 45 % of them were sold during the first two. After all there was some launch hype, then there was Christmas… And then let’s even more generously assume 50K of G1s sold in the other market it was available in 2008 – the U.K. (it was launched there on Oct.30, 2008).

That gives us a whopping total of 500 000 of Android phones sold in 2008. And that 10x growth? 5 million phones?

Then consider the following:

  • In  2009 HTC G1/Dream  has started shipping with multiple carriers in five major (France, Germany , Spain, Italy, Australia) and a number of smaller markets. And is coming to many more soon
  • Another HTC Android phone is launching just about now and has already gained major carrier acceptance in major markets. Some more HTC Android handsets are rumored
  • Samsung has already announced and will soon start shipping a very attractive and well specc’ed Android device -i7500. And there will probably be several more Samsung Android phones launched soon afterwards.
  • LG said they will have one as well.
  • Motorola is betting it’s whole mobile device future on Android smartphones and officially confirmed the launch of several Android devices this year.
  • Sony Ericsson has also indicated that it will have Android phone this year.

That’s 4 of the 5 biggest handset makers promising Android phone for 2009. Some of them will be putting all (or at least very significant part) of their marketing muscle and sales machine behind these handsets. And don’t forget HTC. They alone might ship a couple of million of Android handsets this year.

Taking into account all of the above, how hard this 5 million number is to achieve? I’d say not at all. If anything, this 10x growth figure should be too low. HTC Dream G1 and, from June HTC  Magic and Samsung i7500 – the only official Android phones for now-  alone are able to beat that 5 mil. unit number easily.

All other phones would just add to a nice bonus. Or, I’d say, another 5 mil.

So what? Sure,  it’s a nice figure and very impressive growth. But, from such low initial base it doesn’t tell us anything. It’s  still only about 5% of total smartphone market and less than 1% of global handset market.

And it certainly does not tell us how Android will do against competition from Symbian, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, iPhone, Palm  or even upcoming Nokia Maemo/Linux devices. That story will start unfolding in 2010.

In the meantime, that 900% a year Android growth figure sounds very cool, but not cool enough. I think it’s too low. I say Android sales will grow 1800% this year! (And you don’t have to pay $7K for this report).

Any takers for more?

Author: Stasys Bielinis

While I like to play with the latest gadgets, I am even more interested in broad technology trends. With mobile now taking over the world - following the latest technology news, looking for insights, sharing and discussing them with passionate audience - it's hard to imagine a better place for me to be. You can find me on Twitter as @UVStaska'

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  • david k

    I Love my G1 and my Face Trasher app!

  • AK

    q Where is the HTC G2 or G3 with UMA for T-Moblile Hot Spot .Or another carrier? I live in a DEAD ZONE 12 -15 miles from cell Connection North South and East, but with high speed internet Computer with wireless router.

  • Ned

    Maybe the market will eventually settle down like the Personal Computer market did 15 years earlier. Apple's iPhone will stay at around 13%, with a vertical platform similar to the Macintosh. However this time, Android will become the generic “PC” of smartphones (rather than Windows), taking most of the rest of the market.

    Palm's WebOS and Microsoft's Windows Mobile will disappear from the smartphone scene altogether, as they have failed to gain any traction with the public or software developers. It's becoming obvious to everyone that Andriod will be the dominant smartphone platform of the future.

  • http://www.staska.net Staska

    “Android will become the generic “PC” of smartphones (rather than Windows),
    taking most of the rest of the market.”

    I seriously doubt that.

    For one thing, operators, who have, and will continue to have a tremendous
    control over the market via handset subsidies, will never allow that.

    Other players – Nokia, Samsung, LG, HTC, RIM, Microsoft, etc; are also not
    sitting still, and won't permit the situation similar to PC market to
    develop.

    And, for now, I don't see anything that Google could be able to offer to
    carriers and consumers to marginalize all those other players with their
    mobile OS

  • Ned

    Maybe the market will eventually settle down like the Personal Computer market did 15 years earlier. Apple's iPhone will stay at around 13%, with a vertical platform similar to the Macintosh. However this time, Android will become the generic “PC” of smartphones (rather than Windows), taking most of the rest of the market.

    Palm's WebOS and Microsoft's Windows Mobile will disappear from the smartphone scene altogether, as they have failed to gain any traction with the public or software developers. It's becoming obvious to everyone that Andriod will be the dominant smartphone platform of the future.

  • http://www.staska.net Staska

    “Android will become the generic “PC” of smartphones (rather than Windows),
    taking most of the rest of the market.”

    I seriously doubt that.

    For one thing, operators, who have, and will continue to have a tremendous
    control over the market via handset subsidies, will never allow that.

    Other players – Nokia, Samsung, LG, HTC, RIM, Microsoft, etc; are also not
    sitting still, and won't permit the situation similar to PC market to
    develop.

    And, for now, I don't see anything that Google could be able to offer to
    carriers and consumers to marginalize all those other players with their
    mobile OS