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Android sees holiday spike in device activations, breaks record for downloads

by Phil Hornshaw

We’d already heard that it was a pretty good holiday for Google’s Android platform, with market research firm Localytics reporting that some 12 times as many Android devices were in use during the Christmas weekend than the previous weekend across the globe.

A different take on the numbers (and maybe a different story) comes from an analysis from another market research firm. As TechCrunch reports, Flurry Analytics released its own numbers this week, stating that between Android and Apple’s iOS platform, there were 6.8 million devices activated on Christmas Day alone. That’s a big spike as well, and after Flurry released its numbers – which didn’t differentiate between the two platforms – Google’s mobile chief, Andy Rubin, hit Twitter to clarify that Android saw 3.7 million activations for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, a spike of about 2.7 times more activations than usual.

Flurry broke down the numbers further for the activations, finding that between both platforms, 1.5 million devices were activated on average every day from Dec. 1 to Dec. 20. The spike up to 6.8 million was a gain of 353 percent over the baseline. Christmas 2011 was also a record day for mobile device activations, beating out the previous record holder, Christmas 2010, which had 2.8 million activations.

Another success story is in app downloads. Flurry finds its data by including its analytics software in about 140,000 apps available on Android and iOS, so the company says it sees approximately 100 percent of activations. It can also do a pretty good job of extrapolating total app downloads, and the firm reported that on Christmas, downloads spiked from an average of 108 million per day during the rest of December up to 242 million on Christmas.

The trouble spot here is, Flurry didn’t break down app downloads by platform, so it’s unclear how many of these downloads are coming from Android devices. With 3.7 million new devices in users’ hands over Christmas, and with Flurry projecting a billion app downloads between now and New Year’s, it’s a fair bet a lot of them are taking place on Android, though. That’s good news.

The more users are downloading apps on Android, the better for everyone as more and more app developers find ways to make money on the platform. Android is a notoriously tough place for many developers to break in and sees a lot more free app downloads than does Apple’s platform. Things have been slowly getting better, but the best way to improve things quickly is for Android users to buy apps and spread the word about good ones.

Though it was a record-breaking Christmas and there have been a lot of app downloads, the bad news is that Android split some of those record-breaking numbers with Apple. Google’s platform still has a lot of catching up to do in terms of building an app market like its Cupertino rival, but adding 3.7 million users in just two days will certainly help matters.