Android-based TV sticks activate as tablets, prove popular for bootleg videos in Asia

Posted:
in iPad edited February 2014
Android-based USB and HDMI TV sticks that incorrectly activate as tablets have proven popular in Asia, where they are reportedly used to pirate video content --?and could be inaccurately skewing Android's tablet market share at the cost of Apple's iPad.

Android
"Mini PC" dongles running Android 4.2 can be bought via online resellers such as Alibaba.com.


The unofficial Android accessories, which typically run version 4.2 of the operating system and include access to the Google Play store, were highlighted by Philip Elmer-Dewitt of Apple 2.0 in a report on Monday. The diminutive devices can be found online marketed as "mini PCs," and feature connectivity options such as USB, HDMI and Bluetooth.

But their greatest use may be for pirated video content in Asia, according to "jnaina," a Singapore-based user on the Investor Village AAPL Sanity forum. According to the user, Android-based sticks can be purchased for around $100 U.S. and will come preloaded with bootleg digital copies of 20 or more movies. Additional movies can reportedly be bought from these street vendors for about $2.

According to the forum poster, the dongles are usually running Android 4.2, also known as Jelly Bean. During the activation process, the devices reportedly register as an Android tablet, though they can only be used as media players, and not for surfing the Web, checking email, or running typical tablet applications.

Android
This Android "Mini PC" is listed in the Alibaba.com "Tablet PC" section.


While there's no hard data on just how many Android TV sticks are in the wild, the fact that they are activated as tablets could help explain recent data that suggests Android tablets are beginning to overtake Apple's iPad in terms of marketshare. Despite those figures, actual tablet usage data paints a very different picture, with Apple continuing to control the lion's share of active tablet users.

For example, Web tracking data from Chitika published in July found that the iPad accounted for a whopping 84.3 percent of all tablet traffic data. Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook cited that data earlier this year, when he questioned claims of newfound success for Android tablets.

"If there are lots of other tablets selling, I don't know what they're being used for," Cook said. "Because that's a pretty basic function, is Web browsing."

In July, AppleInsider described the curious statistics being used cited in global tablet market share numbers, citing analyst Benedict Evans as drawing a potential connection between such TV sticks and Android tablet activations.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 78
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Wow that was fast. :lol: If these activate as "tablets" it might explain where IDC and others get their huge "other" tablet figures.
  • Reply 2 of 78
    mauszmausz Posts: 243member
    I have two of these sticks, and they are full blown android devices so the quote 'though they can only be used as media players, and not for surfing the Web' is absolutely wrong.

    Only problem with them is they have no touchscreen, and you have to use a mouse (which works fine in most cases).

    I bought them for development of a cheap plugin kiosk system where our customers only supply the touchscreen (which emulate the mouse via usb connection)
  • Reply 3 of 78
    How's this news? I thought Android was synonymous for pirating stuff. What is truly pathetic is that these sticks get identified as tablets. But whatever, numbers, who needs 'em. Customer satisfaction is where the money is at, and might be the reason for the employees to create things and enjoy it while doing just that.
  • Reply 4 of 78
    sog35 wrote: »
    You could literally 'activate' thousands of 'devices' using a single PC by installing Android, activating, and then uninstall.

    Is that true? If so there might be a market for that. You can also buy FB 'likes'.
  • Reply 5 of 78
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    mausz wrote: »
    I have two of these sticks, and they are full blown android devices so the quote 'though they can only be used as media players, and not for surfing the Web' is absolutely wrong.

    Only problem with them is they have no touchscreen, and you have to use a mouse (which works fine in most cases).

    I bought them for development of a cheap plugin kiosk system where our customers only supply the touchscreen (which emulate the mouse via usb connection)
    Then why are these being counted as tablets? Shouldn't they be counted as PC's like chromebooks are?
  • Reply 6 of 78
    Android Set-top Box that looks 90% like an Apple TV is easily and readily available in China. These set-top boxes runs Android ROM and are activated as 'tablets' too. ;)
  • Reply 7 of 78
    Here is a photo of how an Android TV Box looks like:

    http://miniandroidpc.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/android-tv-box-set-top-tv-box.jpg

    With sufficient volume, you can even get the factory to customise the name/logo on it. I have seen it bundled as IPTV service. ;)
  • Reply 8 of 78
    sog35 wrote: »
    It is true.

    Wow. Well, that's one way to stick it to the competition ¡
  • Reply 9 of 78
    chaicka wrote: »
    Here is a photo of how an Android TV Box looks like:

    http://miniandroidpc.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/android-tv-box-set-top-tv-box.jpg

    With sufficient volume, you can even get the factory to customise the name/logo on it. I have seen it bundled as IPTV service. ;)

    That is one fugly MacMini.
  • Reply 10 of 78
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,509member
    chaicka wrote: »
    Here is a photo of how an Android TV Box looks like:

    http://miniandroidpc.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/android-tv-box-set-top-tv-box.jpg

    With sufficient volume, you can even get the factory to customise the name/logo on it. I have seen it bundled as IPTV service. ;)

    What Google hath wrought!

    Try harder not to be evil . . .
  • Reply 11 of 78
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,155member
    The irony here is these same research firms were probably the same ones refusing to accept an iPad was a computer so as to keep Window's PC numbers way ahead of Apple's sales numbers. Remember here on the AI blog, how the argument raged?

    I have to ask though ... if these research companies are as eager to please those that pay them as DED clearly pointed out in his article over the weekend, why doesn't Apple play the same game and pay these jokers for research to show the truth?
  • Reply 12 of 78
    ronnronn Posts: 320member
    Not just in Asia: I've seen these dongles in the Manhattan & Flushing, Queens Chinatowns in NYC and whenn I passed by Boston Chinatown earlier this year.
  • Reply 13 of 78
    if you cant beat em, join em. apple should release a $99 iStick and flood the market

    make it an iPad dongle that plugs into a PC, Mac or TV and runs iOS apps.
  • Reply 14 of 78
    akqiesakqies Posts: 768member
    vaporland wrote: »
    if you cant beat em, join em. apple should release a $99 iStick and flood the market

    make it an iPad dongle that plugs into a PC, Mac or TV and runs iOS apps.

    That wouldn't do it. Apple would have to release some iOS-based code that they count in their numbers, like the Apple TV OS which already sells for $99, but make it free to download and be able to load on an SD card, USB flash drive, CD, DVD, another HDD/SSD, VM, etc.
  • Reply 15 of 78
    akqiesakqies Posts: 768member
    sog35 wrote: »
    and totally ruin their ecosystem premium?  Hell no.

    To be clear I was not advocating any such move.
  • Reply 16 of 78
    I like how they proudly display the green trash can logo on their pirate sticks. For consumers in Asian countries, piracy is the "normal" content distribution network.
  • Reply 17 of 78
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sog35 View Post

     

    What a fuking joke.  So this is how Android has 80% of the phone market and 60% of tablets.  Total BS.  You could literally 'activate' thousands of 'devices' using a single PC by installing Android, activating, and then uninstall. 

     

    I bet USB sticks, in car TV systems, stero systems, even appliances are being counting as Android devices.  Bottom line is web usage and PROFITS prove these market share numbers are total BS.  If Samsung really sold that many tablets they would have bragged about it in a press release.

     

    This is how all these stupid research firms arrive at their market share numbers:

     

    1. Get total activations from Google. Which includes USB sticks, Chromecast, refridgerators, ect. Divide by 12.  Adjust to seasonal sales.

     

    2. Get a sample of what % of smartphones/tablets are Samsung, Leveno, ect.  Multiple that by total Google activations.

     

    3.  Get the ACTUAL sales numbers from Apple filings.


    Where do you live?

     

    In my opinion 80% Market share for Android is conservative. iPhones are rare in most countries.

  • Reply 18 of 78
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,485member
    Here is the easy solution to this problem unless a publicly trade company or a company has been publicly certified reports their sales and it can be verified their number are not included in the market size calculations.

    We all said it before, Google is reporting activation, and as we have seen it does not translate into an actual sale of a products. one phone could be activated multiply times.

    Google has been giving anyone and everyone Android to use it how they like, but it does not mean that it being use as designed since it can be modified since it is open source.
  • Reply 19 of 78
    This is great, because it means that all operating system data is skewed and totally unreliable. Therefore all the data analysis created by IDC and Strategic Analytics and the other fake data manufacturers is sheer garbage.

    Once again all we are left with is the rule that if you want to know what is happening you have to follow the money. And apparently, it is all flowing towards Apple.
  • Reply 20 of 78
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post



    Here is the easy solution to this problem unless a publicly trade company or a company has been publicly certified reports their sales and it can be verified their number are not included in the market size calculations.



    We all said it before, Google is reporting activation, and as we have seen it does not translate into an actual sale of a products. one phone could be activated multiply times.



    Google has been giving anyone and everyone Android to use it how they like, but it does not mean that it being use as designed since it can be modified since it is open source.

    I'm not sure that's true any more is it?  I think Google counts an activation when a device connects to the Play Store and is identified by a unique device ID which never changes, so a phone being wiped and reactivated would only count as a single activation.

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