Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) said it is seeing 850,000 new Android handsets and tablets activated each day, a mark that should rise to 1 million daily activations in a couple months.
Andy Rubin, creator of Android and senior vice president of mobile and digital content for Google, made the announcement in a blog post published to accompany his presence at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona Feb. 27.
The 850K number in itself isn't significant. What's significant is the growth trajectory Android has been on, considering that Rubin said he was seeing 700,000 Android activations as of Dec. 20.
If Android's device growth rate holds, Rubin & Co. should be trumpeting 1 million daily activations in April. The platform has also seen a year-over-year growth rate of 250 percent, with the Android device total amounting to more than 300 million units worldwide.
Google's Android Market, which had 150,000-plus apps at MWC in 2011, now has more than 450,000 apps. That's only 100,000 less than Apple's App Store. Google is also seeing more than 1 billion monthly app downloads in the Market.
Google's Android partners are showing off some 100-plus handsets and tablets at MWC, a "small portion of the 800-plus" Android devices that have launched thus far worldwide, said Rubin. Of course, most of these devices are smartphones, partly due to the great growth rate in mobile handsets, and partly due to the lag in Android tablet sales.
Google hopes to change that in 2012. At the show, Rubin also told a panel of press members that Google would "double down" on Android tablets, which have been far behind Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad in adoption among consumers and businesses.
Meanwhile, Google executives are also touting mobile advertising at MWC this week. Google partnered with Ipsos on a global smartphone usage study.
The partners found that smartphone ownership has jumped 7 percent to make up 38 percent of the total U.S. population, with 90 percent of respondents in France using their mobile devices to access the Web every day.
In Germany, 67 percent of smartphone owners use their mobile device while on public transport, while 84 percent of U.K. smartphone owners look for local information on their mobile handset.
The bullish behaviors prompted Jason Spero, head of global mobile sales for Google, to predict that more than 1 billion people will use mobile devices as their primary Internet access point in 2012.
Spero said, "Tablets will take their place as the fourth screen," though some iPad owners would no doubt argue that it already has become their third or fourth screen.
He further said the return on investment on mobile and tablet advertising will increase, perhaps the most important point for Google as an online ad company staking its claim to the biggest cut of the mobile ad market.