Google was quick to highlight the continuing rise of Android on the smartphone platform at their third quarter earnings call, citing 190 million total Android activations globally. Google didn't mention how many of those activations came from tablets running Honeycomb, but according to a developer estimate, it isn't much. With the Android team's latest statistics, the total number of active Honeycomb tablets in the wild comes out to a depressing 3.4 million.
Developer Al Sutton reached the conclusion after combining the 190 million figure with the device percentage breakdown released last week, wherein only 1.8% of global Android activations came from Honeycomb tablets. Divide 1.7% into 190 million, and you get a total of 3.42 million. Comparing Honeycomb tablets with Android smartphones isn't exactly apples to apples, but by contrast, Froyo has 86 million activations and Gingerbread is right behind at 73.5 million.
It's no secret that Apple still dominates the tablet world, with the iPad retaining an 80% marketshare more than six months after Honeycomb debuted. Analysts are putting 2011 iPad sales in the 20 million range, which just about evens out with the marketshare estimates. The 3.4 million figure doesn't include low-cost or pre-Honeycomb tablets, most of which are running Android 2.3 Gingerbread by now. Popular devices like the original Samsung Galaxy Tab and the Nook Color don't factor into these results, and neither will the Amazon Kindle Fire, which runs a heavily-modified version of Gingerbread.
Considering how much the iPad dominates, reaching almost 20% of its sales in less than a year isn't bad, even if it isn't ideal. Part of the reason that cheaper tablets use Gingerbread is that Google hasn't released the source code for Honeycomb, and doesn't intend to. Google's Ice Cream Sandwich announcement is coming next week in Hong Kong, and if the company offers the source code to the combined smartphone/tablet OS (as promised), expect cheap ICS tablets to hit the market a few months later.