Android tablet numbers

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.  

Screen Shot 2013-07-24 at 17.12.34.png

If I eyeball this chart and back out the numbers, the result looks something like this. 

Screen Shot 2013-07-25 at 11.22.41.png

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.