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« Return of the Jedi: Nokia can be saved, here is the how | Main | Lets Understand Phones: Market is Shifting from Dumbphones to Smartphones »

February 01, 2011



Aren't there Android devices that do not need activation and are therefore not counted by Google? If so, can this be sufficient to explain Canalys' numbers?


Activations doesn't equal handset sales. Some sales may be for current Android account holders, upgrading their phones.

 Tomi T Ahonen

Hi SoVatar and Joanne

Good points but also Activations include Android devices which are not handsets - ie tablets and TV sets etc. The other number that is relevant is total sales of all Android family smartphone makers - cannot be 33 million, the math doesn't get us there, 29 million is ceiling of what it might be, reality is somewhere between 26 million and 29 million.

Lets see what IDC and Gartner say, I trust they'll be more careful with their math haha..

Thank you for writing

Tomi Ahonen :-)


.... unless phone companies are reporting all new phones as new activations... which shouldn't necessarily be the case.


Yes, I think a lot of us who read the report called it out for being disingenuous. I think they saw an eventuality and decided to be the "first one" to call it, knowing that by the time Android actually crosses Symbian (a couple of months?) its critics might be accused of nitpicking!

Reminds me a lot of so-called analysis during the dotcom days.




google has quite specifically said, they don't count upgrades in their activations. And canalys counts OMS and Tapas platform activations as well.


Counting activations means: depending on Google and they can and will spin the figures any way they like. They don't count reactivations, they say, but what about multiple activations of the same device?


Lets see the major US technology blogs backtrack from the circus they put on celebrating these stats yesterday. The Strategy Analytics numbers also showed Symbian as still on top on top.

The US blogs will probably just do what they always do: ignore stats that don't promote their agenda of drumming the Nokia is old/obsolete/unusable/dead mantra.


so who do you depend on for stats? canalys, Apple, Gartner, Strategy Analytics, Tomi Ahonen etc. Doesn't everyone have an agenda just like google has one.


The Canalys data includes China Mobile's Android based OMS phones. Here's the relevant quote from the table in the Canalys pr (

"The Google numbers in this table relate to Android, as well as the OMS and Tapas platform variants."

China Mobile is the largest operator in China, with almost 600 million subscribers. OMS is the Android fork that China Mobile created and is pushing heavily. It does not come with Google services and so these handsets are not counted as part of the "activations" number that Google periodically announces. This probably explains the anomalous figure that Canalys came up with. China Mobile definitely has the scale to push 5 million handsets in a quarter. However, Canalys certainly deserves to be criticized for counting these under the Google heading, as OMS in no way contributes to the Android ecosystem and sales of OMS handsets do not help Google.



I can understand most agendas you mention, and I take what they say with a grain of salt. But Ahonen's agenda? What does he have to win by doing the maths that Canalys should have been doing in the first place? I mean, really.


good point, was wrong to include Tomi Ahonen, but doesn't he have a soft corner towards Nokia ?


1st: "over 300k" is different than "300k"

2nd: you do not know what kind of peak they had at xmas sales. google has not revealed any exact activations numbers for their holiday sales.


I agree with Sumit that the difference is most likely in the OMS and Tapas variants off of Android. Google ignores those, but Canalys doesn't.

Although Canalys is probably wrong to put them under the heading of "Google" as opposed to "Android" because they don't have any Google services on them, note that Google counts in their activations/day other Android phones that have Bing and carrier GPS apps (instead of Google and Google Maps).

Bob Shaw

In order for Canalys to maintain its credibility, it would need to explain exactly how they arrived at their numbers. I hope Gartner and IDC will also do the same when they report their results.



google counts all those devices which have android market on them. Even if carrier puts bing or carrier maps, user can download maps or google search from the android market.


I find all of this quite funny. Instead of people realizing the obvious trend/tidal wave that is forming right before their eyes (i.e. rise of Android and fall of Symbian), people are looking ways to ignore the reality of the situation and play ostrich.

True, Tomi may be right that the math is a bit fuzzy... but then again maybe not. Right now we have a proverbial he said/she said as we do not have enough of the raw data/fact base to analyze and make a formal conclusion.

But the bigger picture (as I am gleeming from some of these comments) seems to be that this is turning into an issue of natioal pride. The Finns feel that the US-centric media and blogs only pump stories that promote US-based interests... and downplay or ignore stories that run counter to that narrative. While there may be a kernel of truth to that, the reality is that for the past 4 years plus - the majority of major telecom news and innovation has been driven by Apple, Google and RIM. Yes, Samsung, MOT, LG and others have added substantian contributions. But those have largely been on the backs of Google (e.g. MOT Droid, Samsung Captivate/Galaxy, etc.).

So, the exact timing for when Android overtakes Symbian is somewhat irrelevant. The larger picture is that many of the Sr managers at Nokia (minus the new additions such as Elop, Greene, Martin, Skillman and Devard) and those specifically who control Symbian and Nokia's smartphones have done NOTHING in the past four years to add shareholder value. All they have done is slowly destroy what was a telecom giant. I hope in the forthcoming strategy adjustment announced by Elop - they all find themselves looking for new companies to destroy ;)


Well said, cmk011 (mostly). The growth trajectories tell the real story, not which of the analyst firms that happens to report it first.

This may well go into the MBA textbooks as a prime case of "denial of the obvious". The Gartner Q2 and Q3 numbers showed the writing on the wall in such utter clarity.

The IDC or Gartner Q4 numbers may turn out a little different, but it would take one heck of a difference to actually matter.

Bob Shaw

The Canalys number by itself would not be that big of an issue if 400 news stories would not have covered it within 24 hours. Looking at all the talk about Symbian and Nokia on the US centric blogs, one cannot be faulted for getting an impression that any piece of information (right or wrong) is used to forecast gloom and doom for Symbian and Nokia. Worse yet,not even Meego, which has still to enter the race, is spared from the gloom and doom forecast.


"The larger picture is that many of the Sr managers at Nokia (minus the new additions such as Elop, Greene, Martin, Skillman and Devard) and those specifically who control Symbian and Nokia's smartphones have done NOTHING in the past four years to add shareholder value"

so increasing profits is something shareholders does not like now then?

Increasing sales is something all shareholders dislike?

sure profits when down Q4 2010 comapred to same time 2009. But then it increased 65% 2009 so hard to follow when Android is comming so strong.

Also Ovi Store is a clear leader in China . ..beating even local solutions

Also voted the most trusted company in India.

so going pretty damn good in the 2 biggest countries in the world.

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