Apple's iOS, Android Battle Over Holidays: Flurry

Apple's iOS and Google Android are battling it out for users over the holiday season, according to new numbers from analytics firm Flurry.

Analytics firm Flurry has estimated some 6.8 million iOS and Android device activations on Christmas day, suggesting that Apple and Google are exiting 2011 the same way they entered: with burgeoning sales for devices running their respective operating systems, indicative of both companies' fervent desire to control the mobility market.

In a Dec. 27 posting on its corporate blog, Flurry described that activation number as "a 353 [percent] increase over the baseline" of the average for the first 20 days of December. For Christmas 2010, the firm noted some 2.8 million activations.

"There were 3.7 [million] Android devices activated on 12/24 and 12/25," Andy Rubin, senior vice president of Google's mobile efforts, tweeted Dec. 28. If that number proves true, and iOS took the significant majority of the other activations during that period, it means the two operating systems are indeed within striking distance of one another, numbers-wise.

Applications also experienced a burgeoning year, according to the firm. "Apple's App Store is on pace to exceed 10 billion downloads, which will double the cumulative number of downloads earned across 2008, 2009 and 2010," the blog added. "The Android Market also set records, more than tripling its life-to-date downloads of 3 billion, reached in May 2011, to now over 10 billion cumulative downloads reached this December."

Apple and various Android manufacturers are also competing in the courtroom. Apple recently scored a minor victory against Android when the International Trade Commission (ITC) banned certain HTC smartphones from import in April 2012, on the basis of a software feature supposedly infringing an Apple patent. The emphasis is on the word "minor," because observers believe that HTC will have little trouble altering its devices to sidestep the ban.

However, it remains to be seen whether Apple will use this legal victory as leverage against HTC and other Android manufacturers. According to Walter Isaacson's best-selling biography of Steve Jobs, the very existence of Android drove the Apple co-founder into a fury in which he pledged "thermonuclear war" against what he claimed was a "stolen product."

In a meeting with former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Jobs supposedly refused to accept any form of Android-related payout: "I don't want your money. If you offer me $5 billion, I won't want it. I've got plenty of money. I want you to stop using our ideas in Android, that's all I want."

Although Jobs died in October following a long battle with cancer, Apple is continuing its crusade to shut down Android however and wherever it can. The legal battles will almost certainly continue. And if the holiday activations are any indication, iOS and Android will continue to battle toe-to-toe for customer loyalty into 2012.

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