Google: 2012 Will Be Year Of The Android Tablets

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Google made a splash at the Mobile World Congress today in Spain with the announcement that more than 450,000 apps have been downloaded from Android Market. True, Android's growth in the past couple of years has been astronomical and some projections have it surpassing Apple's iPhone and App Store in the near future (it already passed iOS in the UK), but the numbers released today are something of a head-spinner.

In a Google+ update, Google Senior Vice President of Mobile and Digital Content Andy Rubin revealed a brain-addling statistic: there are over 850,000 Android phones and tablets activated every day. More, there are now over 300,000,000 active Android devices in the world today. That's staggering, really (if it's accurate), but Rubin doesn't see it as any reason for Google to rest on its laurels. According to The Verge, Rubin told a gaggle of reporters today that he hopes Google can close the gap on tablets sales between them and Apple. While the 12 million tablets already sold isn't anything to scoff at, he said it's "less than I'd expect it to be if you really want to win." He concluded, "2012 is going to be the year that we double down and make sure we're winning in that space."

The thing about Android trying to catch up to the iPad is that Google only seems capable of doing so by flooding the market with different Android tablets. Apple's got the iPad and iPad 2 (and soon an iPad 3) while the number of different Android tablets on the market seem innumerable. More, focusing on catching up with Apple neglects the fact that Amazon's had a pretty wild go at the tablet market lately with the Kindle Fire. Google, however, may already have their eye on a challenge from Kindle Fire with the possible launch of a Google-branded tablet later this year.

Rubin repeated a concept from his Google+ post, that Android is an "ecosystem" of technology, and how he hopes that Google can establish itself as the most hospitable among consumers and developers. "The educated consumer realizes it now that they're either picking the Apple ecosystem or the Microsoft ecosystem or the Google ecosystem and we're going to do a better job at making people understand what ecosystem they're buying into." Citing Google's expansion from smartphones to tablets and possibly even television now, Rubin told Verge that Google's belief is such: "Fundamentally you shouldn't have to have a third-party developer build his app twice."

Android's performance against iOS has covered a lot of ground lately and, depending on what reports you want to adhere to, Google is either on track to pass iOS or already has. Still, Google's not to climb past Apple easily. One of the challenges that Rubin recognized was the need to attract developers to the Android platform. As Google continues to make Android a more visible and viable playground for developers, Rubin concluded, "We're now starting to get on the radar, and I'm hoping people decide to put in the muscle and make their apps work great on tablets."

Meanwhile, somewhere in California, Apple woke to this news, blinked twice before hitting the snooze button, and then rolled over to catch a few more Zs.

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