Google off-handedly mentions there are 200 million Android devices worldwide

by Phil Hornshaw

During its Google Music announcement yesterday, the search giant and creator of the Android mobile operating system dropped something of a bombshell while talking about the new service: There have been 200 million Android devices activated worldwide.

That number is significant because back in May, Google mentioned a different figure: 100 million activated devices. In a period of roughly five months, Google has doubled that number, demonstrating just how big a share of the market Android currently holds in the realm of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.

A recent analysis from market research firm Gartner found that Android devices made up 52.5 percent of all the smartphones sold in the third quarter of 2011, more than twice the market share the operating system enjoyed during the same period in 2010. That’s a pretty significant jump, and given that Google has doubled the number of devices in the hands of customers since May, it’s not surprising.

Google also mentioned a daily activation rate of 550,000 devices. The 550,000-per-day mark is also higher than the 400,000 daily activations Android was notching in May, as Pocket Gamer reports, but it’s about the same as the rate Google announced when it mentioned the 100 million activations six months ago.

Pocket Gamer speculates that this could mean that Android’s rate of growth might be leveling off or hitting a peak, but that seems like too simple a way to interpret the data, especially given other information we’re seeing. Like Apple’s iPhone 4, Gartner believes that Android suffered from a dip in activations during the last quarter as users were waiting to see what new devices would be hitting shelves for the holidays. They were rewarded with the announcement of the Google-branded Galaxy Nexus from Samsung – just as Apple fans got the iPhone 4S. The speculation that newer, better devices were on their way seems to have caused potential customers to hold back their purchases.

Gartner shows that smartphone volume is continuing to increase in markets such as China and Russia, but the wait for devices like the Galaxy Nexus helped temper that growth. In the fourth quarter, things might be a bit different, though, as Google rolls out the next iteration of Android, dubbed “Ice Cream Sandwich.” The Galaxy Nexus is the first device to have the latest version of Android, but Samsung confirmed that its Galaxy S II would be getting the update as well (at least in the UK), according to Mashable.

Ice Cream Sandwich and services like the newly announced Google Music are going to be big boons to the Android ecosystem and should help convince more customers to take the plunge with Google, rather than rival Apple. The fact that the daily activation rate of Android devices didn’t rise during the last six months shouldn’t be seen as a slowing of the operating system’s successes, especially with so many reasons to consider Android coming in the future.