I've been writing a lot about the iPhone 4 recently, and if there's one persistent theme to the comments I get, it's that the iPhone fanatics believe that their primary competition is the Android platform, and that the iPhone is killing it. Unfortunately for them, they are at best delusional. At worst, they are making things up to make themselves feel better for dumping a ton of money on a smartphone that was flawed in its design, and has now begun to cost Apple millions of dollars to slap on a temporary fix.
The fact is, according to a number of sources, including Forbes and CNN, Android device sales have already passed sales of all iOS devices, combined. The Android platform, while everyone was focusing on the iPhone antenna issue, quietly passed the iPhone in activations. Author Seth Weintraub points out in his article that the Verizon Wireless Droid X and the Samsung Galaxy are each selling in excess of a million units in their first three weeks of sales. And of course, there are a large number of other Android devices that are also hot sellers, or would be if they weren't already sold out, such as the Verizon Droid Incredible.
Some analysts point out that the high sales are due to the fact that Android devices typically cost less, thus inflating sales, but in reality that is the point. Apple has succeeded in selling an overpriced device to a group of true believers. Everyone else is buying something that is priced according to market forces. These hot sales have drawn the attention of developers, too, as Mike Vizard points out in this slideshow based on a survey of developers of applications for mobile devices.
While I wasn't able to convince Verizon Wireless to tell me how many of its various Droid devices it's sold, my back-of-the-envelope calculations tell me that Weintraub is probably right. The Droid X and the Droid Incredible are perpetually sold out. Sprint's Evo is selling out. The Samsung Galaxy is still appearing in stores, but is selling well in all four of its incarnations.
And that's the key to Android sales. Instead of restricting customers to one platform and one carrier, as Apple does in the U.S., the Android devices are available in countless versions from every carrier in the U.S., including AT&T, home of the iPhone.
Part of the reason is choice. People can choose their carrier, and their price point, and still have an Android phone. Part of the reason is also that Google doesn't rule the Android environment with an iron hand as Apple does. You can, for example, build your own custom applications for your own company, and install them on your company's devices without Google's permission. With the iPhone, you have to convince Apple that you should be allowed to do this. Again, more choices.
So it should be no surprise that developer interest in the Android market is overtaking interest in the iPhone. As Vizard points out, developers like creating device apps without the carrier or the operating system maker looking over their shoulders. But more and more, they will also like the fact that the Android market is simply getting larger.