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June 28, 2011

500K Android activations—strange coincidence or PR spin?

I’m seeing a lot of interesting news stories circulating in the techo-chamber today about Android reaching the phenomenal milestone of 500K daily activations. This information originates from the Twitter stream of Andy Rubin, the Senior Vice President of Mobile at Google.

Like some of you, I’m wondering how that fits with news from last week that Android’s U.S. market share has begun to slip during the last 4 months.

I’d say reaching this 500K milestone almost simultaneously with the market share news is either an amazing coincidence or Rubin and Google’s PR people are playing loose with the numbers. That’s not such a leap when you consider that all but one of Rubin’s tweets (of which, there are a grand total of 5) are reactions to negative Android news stories.

Look at his Twitter stream and tell me what it looks like to you.

You might argue that 500K activations is a significant milestone worth tweeting. I’d say you’re right, but I would also note that 100K, 200K, 300K, 400K are all equally significant milestones. And yet Rubin tweeted about only one of those—not coincidentally, in response to circulating news about iOS activations outpacing Android.

Likewise, his first tweet was in response to news stories questioning Android’s openness.

Another of his tweets links to a post on the Android blog responding to recent news stories. (“Recently, there’s been a lot of misinformation in the press about Android and Google’s role in supporting the ecosystem….”)

Rubin is clearly using his Twitter account as a PR outlet for countering unfavorable news stories about Android, and that puts the timing of Android reaching this “milestone” into question.

I’m thinking Rubin’s comment about Android reaching 500K activations is just a preemptive strike against those market share stories evolving into an “Android is in trouble” narrative. That means, it’s more PR than hard data and probably inflated in every conceivable way.

In other words, my BS-o-meter is going to 10K.

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