iOS and Android both saw a huge number of device activations on Christmas, but Apple may have outshined its mobile rival by about 1.6 million, says Fortune columnist Philip Elmer-DeWitt.
Following the trail of breadcrumbs to arrive at his estimate, Elmer-DeWitt first pointed to a Tuesday report from mobile analytics firm Flurry. iOS and Android devices combined generated 6.8 million activations on December 25, according to Flurry.
Then yesterday, Andy Rubin, Google's senior VP for mobile, revealed that 3.7 million Android devices were activated the weekend of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. And on December 20, Rubin had touted via a tweet that more than 700,000 Android devices were being activated each day. In past years, Christmas Eve activations tended to be around 50 percent higher than normal, noted Elmer-DeWitt.
Assuming the same 50 percent growth rate this year, then at least 1.1 million Android devices were activated this past Christmas Eve, meaning that the number activated on Christmas Day couldn't have been higher than 2.6 million.
If all those assumptions hold true, it means that at least 4.2 million iOS devices were activated on December 25, outshining Android by 1.6 million units.
Many of those activations were undoubtedly from new iPhone 4S owners. But since Android smartphones have surpassed the iPhone in market share this past year, Elmer-DeWitt believes that iPad and iPod Touch devices probably pushed Apple into the lead on Christmas.
Of course, these numbers are all based on rough projections and calculations. And as Elmer-DeWitt acknowledges, his estimate doesn't account for sales or activations of Amazon's Kindle Fire, which wouldn't be recorded by Google. Amazon hasn't released specific sales figures for the Fire, but a report from eDataSource early this month projected anywhere from 850,000 to 2 million units sold from the product's launch date on November 15 up to December 1.
The latest sales figures for Apple's iDevices will be revealed next month when the company reports its earnings for the first fiscal quarter of 2012, which includes the holiday season.