A slow start for Google’s Android mobile operating system: Based on a survey, Morgan Stanley estimates that Google’s (GOOG) partners HTC and T-Mobile (DT) sold 300,000 Google-powered G1 smartphones in the U.S. during Q4.
That’s about 17% the number of iPhones — 1.75 million — that Morgan Stanley estimates Apple (AAPL) and AT&T (T) sold in the U.S. last quarter. In other words, almost six iPhones for each Android phone.
If true, not unexpected. Apple’s iPhone offers a much better consumer experience, especially for multimedia and third-party software features. The Google G1 didn’t go on sale until late October, while the iPhone was on sale the whole quarter. And the iPhone has the benefit of AT&T — the top U.S. carrier during Q4 — as its sales and marketing partner, not T-Mobile — the no. 4 U.S. carrier during Q4.
We’ll have a better idea of Android’s potential in about a year when multiple phone makers and carriers — including Motorola (MOT), LG, Sony Ericsson, etc. — are selling Google-powered device.
And a reminder that Google’s long-term success doesn’t rely on Android: Google’s long-term interest is mostly to get more people using the mobile Web on their phones (and other non-PC devices) so they could see (and click on) more Google-brokered ads. Ad clicks are just as valuable on iPhones as Google phones.
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