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Android Soars: But Not Above Apple's Mobile Revenues

It came in a simple 9-word tweetfrom Google’s Android chief, Andy Rubin: “There are now 300,000 Android phones activated each day.”

It’s a staggering number: more than 2 million a week, nearly 10 million a month, 30 million a quarter. Google says the activation has increased nearly tenfold since January, when it was 30-40 thousand a day.

Google Android
Google Android
Google Android

Financially this is critically important for Google: Mobile is one of the company’s most important growth areas, and mobile ads recently hit a $1 billion annual run rate. Android is fueling that growth. The easiest way to get to $2 billion? Double the number of Android phones on the market.

And with that, the speculation can probably end: Sometime in 2011, if not before, phones running Google’s Android operating system will almost certainly outnumber Apple’s iOS devices.

This is no doubt annoying to Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who earlier this fall questioned Google’s numbers: Jobs suggested that Google’s claim of 200,000 daily Android activations was fuzzy math counted a lot more than just phones. This tweet from Rubin clears that up.

OK. But so what if Android outsells iOS?

Does that mean Android becomes a better business than iOS? No it does not. Remember, Google just now got to a $1 billion annual run rate for mobile ads, which is how Android gets monetized. Apple cleared $25 billion in iPhone sales in its last fiscal year.

As long as Apple can keep growing iOS and maintain device margins, it’ll still be Google playing catch-up on the numbers that count.

Questions? Comments? TechCheck@cnbc.comAnd you can follow Jon Fortt on Twitter @jonfortt

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