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Half million Android activations a day pave way for Google Nexus Prime

Jun 28, 2011 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

Google's Andy Rubin says Android is now being activated on 500,000 smartphones and tablets each day, with 4.4 percent week-to-week growth. Meanwhile, new rumors claim Google's next Samsung-built Nexus device will run “Ice Cream Sandwich” on a TI OMAP4 processor and be called Google Nexus Prime.

Google's Android mobile operating system is growing like a proverbial weed, and is poised to get a new member to the company's vaunted Nexus family of smartphones.

Android creator Andy Rubin (pictured) announced that Google is now seeing 500,000 Android smartphones and tablets activated each day. That's up from the 400,000 activations Rubin reported in May at Google I/O and the 300,000 he tweeted about last December.

Rubin, who revealed the news early June 28 in this Twitter tweet, also said he is seeing a 4.4 percent week-to-week growth in handsets and tablets running the open source operating system.

Mixed messages on Android

The announcement comes one week after a Needham & Co. analyst published an investor note claiming that Apple's iPhone 4 on Verizon Wireless — and the prospect for an iPhone 5 — are slowing Android's smartphone market share roll.

As reported by AppleInsider, the Needham investor note claimed that Android's share of the U.S. smartphone market fell from 52.4 percent in the December quarter to 49.5 percent last quarter. The estimated drop was said to be the first sequential loss of market share in any region for Android since it began its "growth rampage" in 2009.

Meanwhile, other concerns over Android continue to crop up. For example, U.K. telecom consulting firm WDS tracked some 600,000 support calls over a 12 month period and reported that Android handset users are reporting far more hardware failures compared to other smartphone platforms.

Some 14 percent of support calls from Android handset users related to hardware issues, reported WDS. By comparison, Windows Phone 7 had a nine percent failure rate, the iPhone ranked at eight percent, and RIM's BlackBerry showed a 3.7 percent rate.

In addition, concerns continue to arise that most of those 600,000 plus apps in Android market are either lost in the shuffle, or deserve to be. Also, some observers are calling Android users cheap — far more interested in free apps than paid.

For example, according to Appolicious, a recent analysis of app stores by Distimo found that 80 percent of paid apps in the Android Market have been downloaded by users fewer than 100 times. By comparison, only 20 percent of free apps have seen fewer than 100 downloads.

Still, assuming Google's numbers hold up, a half million activations a day would suggest that Google must be doing some right with Android.

Nexus Prime to opt for TI chip?

The activation news comes amid rumors from Boy Genius Report that Google is preparing to launch a new Nexus smartphone, possibly called the Nexus Prime, in time for Thanksgiving. BGR initially reported the device would run the upcoming Android "Ice Cream Sandwich" operating system on a faster chip and a super-sized 720p HD screen, and forego physical menu keys. Now, the gadget blog says it has uncovered new details.

The 4G radio-equipped device will be built by Samsung, which is providing a Super AMOLED HD display, says the publication. Instead of using a Samsung chip, however, the application processor will be a Cortex-A9 Texas Instruments OMAP4460, which can run at up to 1.5GHz.

There was no word on what carriers will sell the Nexus Prime. Google partnered with T-Mobile and HTC to launch the original Nexus One as the first Android 2.1 handset, and it worked with Sprint and Samsung on the Nexus S — the first two Android 2.3 ("Gingerbread") gadget — as well as the subsequent Nexus S 4G (pictured).

This time, Google could release Ice Cream Sandwich on multiple carriers and OEMs at the same time, speculates BGR.

"Imagine flagship releases from Motorola, HTC, and LG with Ice Cream Sandwich available on AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and Sprint all at practically the same time… in addition to a Google Nexus handset from Samsung," the publication's Jonathan Geller noted.

These are only unsubstantiated rumors, but if true, such an effort could be part of the search engine's new, unnamed alliance created to curb some of the fragmentation going on within the Android ecosystem. These partners, which include the above-mentioned carriers as well as Samsung, HTC, and Motorola, will be eligible for software updates 18 months into the future, provided the hardware allows for it.

The effort is intended to get the carriers and partners on the same software page. Launching multiple Ice Cream Sandwich phones out of the gate could help level the playing field even more.

Clint Boulton is a writer for eWEEK. Eric Brown also contributed to this report.

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