Who's Making Those 160,000 Android Phones Being Activated Each Day?

| About: Alphabet Inc. (GOOG)

By Carl Howe

Google’s Andy Rubin was recently quoted as saying that Google is currently activating 160,000 Android phones each day. That’s a pretty amazing number — if Android adoption continues at that rate, it implies that Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is on track to activate more than 58 million phones this year, which is quite a staggering number.

But HTC’s latest quarterly report makes me wonder who is building those phones. HTC, one of the big Android ODMs and maker of the Verizon’s Droid Incredible and Sprint’s EVO, reported record revenues of $1.8 billion last quarter. At an average OEM price of $500, that accounts for at most 3.6 million Android phones in the quarter, assuming that HTC only sells Android phones. The reality, of course, is that HTC makes many different types of phones, including those for Windows Mobile, so that number is likely to be more like 2.5 or 3 million Android phones out of the mix. Motorola (MOT), LG, and Samsung all also sell Android phones, but they are both later to the party than HTC and haven’t built up as large volumes yet. But for the sake of fairness, let’s assume all four manufacturers are shipping a million Android phones a month. That still leaves us at 48 million phones for the year, 10 million short from the 58 million that Google is citing.

We predicted that Android would be the next breakout mobile app platform in the report, “The Mobile App Gold Rush Speeds Up” earlier this year, and we’re pleased to see Google confirm this fact. But Google’s activation count implies that Android phones are being activated by Google that aren’t being reported by the major manufacturers. The open question is, who is making more Android phones than HTC? And is there a mystery manufacturer that we can’t see? We don’t have answers, but we’d be happy to pass on any suggestions readers may have.

More likely is the fact that the 160,000 Android activations a day was not an average, but a peak activation rate. But we’ll know more as we head into the holiday buying season and get further numbers.