The Numbers Game: Tech Titans Trumpet (And Trump Up) Massive Sales Figures

Fuzzy Math?

Every time Apple launches a new iPhone, record-setting sales numbers soon follow. Five hundred thousand, 1 million, 2 million, and so on. And every year we're floored by how many iPhones the Cupertino clan can sell in one weekend. And, of course, Apple is more than willing to tell us how many have flown off of the shelf.

Apple's not the only one to trumpet impressively huge sales figures around product launches. Big numbers mean big business and the likes of Google, Symbian, Microsoft and others love telling the world just how much of something they sell in a certain period of time or how many people download their latest and greatest software.

Here we take a look at some recent chest-thumping numbers and what they mean. And what they could mean over time.

The Google Android Invasion

At an event earlier this month, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that Google unloads roughly 200,000 Google Android devices per day. That's way more than the iPhone and BlackBerry. That's way more than nearly any smartphone rival. Google Android has made a splash as the mobile OS on such hot smartphones as the HTC EVO 4G, the Motorola Droid X and myriad others.

But is Google trumping up Android's dominance?

Assuming that Schmidt was right and Google does sell 200,000 Android-based devices in a given day, that means that every five days 1 million Android devices are bought. That's roughly 6 million in a month. If Android continues with the same momentum, that means in a year's time 72 million Android devices will be sold. That's enough Android devices sold in one year to ensure every resident of Turkey can go Google.

Symbian's Sales Shout-Out

Not to be outdone by rival Google, Symbian boasted a blowout sales figure of its own: The Symbian Foundation said it shipped more than 27 million devices in the second quarter of 2010. That gives Symbian a 100,000 daily device edge over Google Android, with Symbian selling 300,000 per day. Or, if you like to deal in smaller figures, Symbian offloads 207 devices per minute or more than three each second. At that pace, the Symbian Foundation hits more than 9 million Symbians sold monthly. Symbian's device roster includes smartphones from Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and NTT DoCoMo.

"These figures make for very positive news for the Symbian community. The smartphone market place has become more crowded than ever. So the fact that we continue to outsell our competitors by such large margins, combined with all the feature commitments and developments published on our roadmaps, make us highly confident in our outlook and we will continue to embrace the challenges ahead," Symbian Executive Director Lee M. Williams said in a statement.

The Apple Of Your Eye(Phone)

Steve Jobs and Co. have perfected the sales figures shell game, and the iPhone really got that ball rolling.

Apple claims to have sold 1.7 million Apple iPhone 4s in its first weekend, including the 600,000 shelled out during a pre-sale. By July 16, roughly 3 million iPhone 4s were sold. During Apple's third quarter earnings call last month, the company said it sold 8.4 million iPhones in its record quarter; that's one iPhone for every person who tuned in to LeBron James' "The Decision" special on ESPN where he announced his move to the Miami Heat.

If you want to break down iPhone sales figures further, that’s 93,333 Apple iPhones sold each day, or 33.4 million per year. Still not Symbian or Android levels, but still pretty solid.

Apple iPad: Not Too Shabby

The Apple iPad came out of the gate a sales superstar. Apple went so far as to call the iPad a "jaw dropper" in its most recent earnings call, in which Apple COO Tim Cook said it sold 3.27 million of the touch-screen tablets in Apple's third quarter, the first to take the iPad into account. That means apple sold 3.27 iPads from April to June. If it were to maintain that momentum, Apple could go on to unload more than 13 million iPads in just a single year. That's one iPad for every person who tuned into the U.S.A. vs. England match in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in June.

Microsoft Orders A (Windows) 7 And 7

Perhaps the most astronomical recent sales benchmark comes from Redmond, where Microsoft claims that it sells seven licenses for its Windows 7 operating system every second. That's 420 licenses per minute, 25,200 per hour and 604,800 per day. At that pace, 4 million Windows 7 licenses would be sold in a week. That means it would only take Microsoft about four-and-a-half years at that rate to sell more than 1 billion Windows 7 licenses.

Microsoft says that since Windows 7 launched last October, it has sold more than 150 million licenses, passing the 100 million-license mark in late April and roughly 25 million per month. That keeps Windows 7 on track to unload more than 300 million licenses by the end of 2010.

Facebook Facts And Figures

Facebook ain't going away. If anything, it's getting stronger by the second. And to illustrate its dominance, Facebook publishes outrageous facts and figures. For instance, Facebook has more than 500 million active users -- roughly the population of the European Union -- and 50 percent of them log onto Facebook in any given day. The average user has 130 friends, and people spend 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook.

Facebook has been around for six years, but it likely won't take another six for the site to reach 1 billion users.

Firefox Gets Feisty

Mozilla Firefox loves to brag about its numbers. One million downloads here, another million there. Etcetera and so on. Currently, Firefox boasts that more than 360 million people globally use the open-source Firefox browser. As of April 2010, Firefox had been downloaded more than 1.3 billion times, or once for every person in China. Not too bad for a browser that holds only about 25 percent of the overall marketshare.

Twitter Trickery

Twitter likes to keep us guessing, and it likes to keep its statistics somewhat close to the vest. In April, at its own Chirp conference, Twitter divulged some of its stats: As of then, Twitter had just shy of 106 million registered users, a number that's sure to have grown over the past few months. On average, about 300,000 new users sign up each day and 180 million unique visitors visit Twitter each month. On average, there are 55 million tweets per day, that's equal to the number of smartphones shipped in the first quarter of 2010. Twitter only saw about 400,000 tweets in the first quarter of 2007, which grew to 100 million per quarter in 2008. By the end of last year, 2 billion tweets were posted per quarter and in the first quarter of 2010, 4 billion tweets were posted. Currently, Twitter has said, 65 million tweets are posted on Twitter each day, which equates to 750 tweets each second, or 455 million tweets a week, or more than 23 billion in a year. That's one tweet for each gallon of Ethanol expected to be produced globally for 2010.

App Store Uproar

Apple's iTunes App Store has become the application market place to beat. It wasn't always the sales king. When the App Store launched in 2008, no one knew what to expect. And since then the store has grown by leaps and bounds, sparking a host of App Store clones and wannabes. Apple doesn't offer up exact App Store figures, but most recent numbers indicate that the App Store offers more than 200,000 apps and overall, more than doubling the number of apps available as of November 2009.

Now that Apple has surpassed 3 billion app store downloads, let's break it down. Three billion apps in the App Store's first 18 months of existence means apps are downloaded at a rate of more than 166 million per month or more than 5.5 million per day, more than 231,000 per hour or more than 3,800 per second.

Microsoft Goes Exploring (For Numbers)

Internet Explorer 9 isn't even out yet (and doesn't have a release date), and Microsoft is already highlighting high numbers to the latest version of its browser.

A Net Applications report from July showed that IE share grew 0.42 percent worldwide in that month, while Firefox lost 0.90 percent share and Google Chrome slipped 0.08 percent in share. However, Microsoft boasted that the Net Applications report found that Internet Explorer 8, the most recent version of Explorer, continues to be the fastest growing browser with a 0.98 percent increase worldwide in July, which represents more than 30 percent of global browser usage.

But it’s the Internet Explorer 9 basket in which Microsoft is putting its eggs. According to a recent Microsoft blog post, IE9 has sparked quite a buzz. Already there have been 2 million downloads of the IE9 Platform Preview. And so far, Microsoft said, more than 16 million people, roughly the population of Florida, have viewed the IE Test Drive site.