Originally Posted by anonymouse
It's pretty obvious that by implying that the activation numbers shouldn't be relied on that he's attempting to deny the numbers in these reports. But, you knew that.
The fundamental issue is that there's no one source of information that's going to tell you how each platform is doing. In fact, that even begs the question - how are they doing with respect to WHAT? Sales? Profits? Installed base? Market share?
The entire picture comes from looking at all the different data available and trying to understand the interrelationships in order to get a true representation.
In terms of sales, the data presented here is one example of sales data - but covers US only and may or may not be representative of the population as a whole.
Profits are clearly well in Apple's favor - with Apple getting something like 75% of the industry's profits.
Use of the products also seems to be in Apple's favor - with a quite large percentage of internet access coming from iOS devices.
Developer profits is weighted heavily in Apple's favor. This is the factor that would matter if you were a developer.
Raw sales (global) is a difficult one to assess, at least partly because there's no solid definition of 'smartphone'. Some analyses include low end 'smartphones' which are really not much more than glorified feature phones. Others include only mid- to high- end smart phones. All things considered, it appears that there are more Android smartphones sold than iOS phones - with the difference being small or large, depending on whether you include the very low end or not.
In terms of single models, Apple wins hands down with the iPhone selling significantly more than any other single model. This would be important, for example, if you make cases.
Activations are interesting because it is hard to define what they mean. On the one hand, iPhones are more expensive than many Android phones, have greater customer satisfaction and reliability, and have the ability for the OS to be upgraded (which is actually a rarity in the Android world) so one might expect that the average iPhone would be passed down to a second or third user and therefore get activated several times in its life. In that case, the activation share for iPhones would be greater than the sales share. OTOH, Android phones seem to be used more by geeks and people who like to fiddle with their phones and if they need to reset the phone, it might be more likely for the number of activations to be higher. The result would be that Android's activation share might exceed the market share. Or both could be occurring with one factor being more important for one carrier and the other factor being more important for a different carrier. The difference between your activation figures and this article's sales figures suggests that this might be the case. No matter how you slice it, interpreting the meaning of activation numbers is more difficult than interpreting most of the other figures.