Could As Few as 1.3 Million Android Tablets Been Sold in Q2?

In a quarter where Apple gleefully sold 9.25 million tablets, some folks are now suggesting that Android tablet makers may have sold less than 1.35 million. That's 21 times more iPad tablets than Android, at least according to one analysis of the numbers. The question is, is the glass half empty or half full for Android?

This figure was derived by John Gruber of Daring Fireball, based on a suggestion from Robert Synnott on Twitter. While neither Google nor the Android tablet makers have publicly announced tablet sales, the figure was estimated based on the total Android numbers disclosed by CEO Larry Page during his recent quarterly conference call with financial analysts: He said 135 million total Android devices came online in Q2. This was cross referenced with the figures released by Google’s Android Developer site that reports on the number of Android devices by OS versions and screen size accessing the Android Market.

"For the 14-day period ending July 5, 0.9 percent of Android devices were using Android 3.0 or 3.1 — a.k.a. Honeycomb, the versions of Android specifically for — and only for — tablets. Round that up to an even 1 percent to be generous, multiply by 135 million devices, and you get 1.35 million tablets," writes Gruber.

Gruber's analysis contradicts a market research report issued last week by Strategy Analytics -- by a mile. This report tallied 15.1 million units sold in Q2 2011, meaning 5.8 million of the touchscreen devices were not Apple's. Strategy Analytics pegged Android's share at 4.6 million units, with Microsoft and Rim each at less than 1 million (.7 and .5 respectively), and "other" filling in the gap. These figures would have Android capturing about 30 percent of the market last quarter, and doing for the tablet market what it has been doing for smartphones -- giving Apple some healthy competition.

Strategy Analytics quarterly reports shows Android tablets making impressive gains. According to its previous quarterly report, the number of Android-powered tablets sold in Q4 surged dramatically. In the year ago quarter, Q3 2010, Android devices held just 2.3 percent of the market compared to the iPad's approximate 95 percent. In Q4, Android's market share leaped to 22 percent versus the iPad's 75 percent. Now, the market research firm calls Android at 30 percent, Apple at 61 percent with Microsoft at 4.6 percent and RIM at 3.3 percent.

Gruber accounts for the difference in his numbers versus the analysis report by saying the researchers must have been calculating the manufacturing production units of tablets, not actual sales. However, it is at least as likely that Gruber's calculations failed to consider how the Android Developer site derived its data. It only snapshots the screen size and operating system of the devices that accessed the Android Market in a given two-week period.

Even so, that's a pretty big gap between how many Android tablets were reportedly sold and how many were accessing the Android market a few weeks after landing in the hands of an owner.

Even Strategy Analytics reaction to Android's tablet gains for Q2 was tepid. "Multiple Android models distributed across multiple countries by multiple brands such as Samsung, Acer, Asus, Motorola and others are driving volumes. However, no Android vendor yet offers a blockbuster model to rival the iPad, and demand for many Android vendors' products remains patchy," wrote Neil Mawston, Director at Strategy Analytics.