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Go compare.

If you follow goings-on in consumer technology – which i’m guessing you do, since you’re reading this – then, like me, you must be quite bored with the “Android vs iPhone” headlines that journalists, bloggers and commenters seem insistent on producing and provoking.

In their never-ending mission to label one company, device or operating system as “the best”, these commentators can often be found trotting out sales data to back up their opinion. Because, of course, data turns your soft, fragile opinion into rock-hard fact. Except the figures, graphs and charts produced in these pointless articles are often “iPhone sales vs Android sales”. That is comparing apples with oranges, peaches, pears and plums.

The iPhone is a device. Android is an operating system.

I’ve just browsed the online stores of all the major UK mobile networks – O2, Orange, Vodafone, T-Mobile, Three and Virgin Mobile – plus mobile phone retailer Carphone Warehouse to find out how many different phones currently on the (British) market run the Android operating system. From a quick scan of the above stores, i make it twenty-nine.

So: If you compare “iPhone” sales to “Android” sales then you are actually comparing the number of iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 devices sold with the number of Alcatel OT 980, Dell Streak, HTC Desire, HTC Desire HD, HTC Desire Z, HTC Hero, HTC Legend, HTC Wildfire, LG Optimus, LG Optimus GT540, LG Optimus One, Motorola Defy, Motorola Flipout, Motorola Milestone, Motorola Milestone XT720, Nexus One, Nexus S, Orange San Francisco, Samsung Galaxy 551, Samsung Galaxy Apollo, Samsung Galaxy Apollo i5801, Samsung Galaxy Portal, Samsung Galaxy S, Samsung i5500 Europa, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Sony-Ericsson Xperia X10, Sony-Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini, Sony-Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro, Sony-Ericsson Xperia X8, T-mobile Pulse Mini and Vodafone 845 devices sold.

Two vs twenty-nine. Is it any surprise that some outlets report that Android sales are overtaking iPhone sales?

This stuff isn’t newsworthy.

Instead compare A) the iPhone 4 to the HTC Desire or the LG Optimus or the Motorola Milestone or the Nexus S or the Samsung Galaxy S or the Sony-Ericsson Xperia X10 or any of the other Android devices above, or B) all iOS device (iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPod touch, iPad) sales to all Android device sales, and you might – might – show something meaningful.