Apple had a merry Christmas, device activations show

New data from analytics firm Flurry says Apple and its iPhone dominated the holidays, with Samsung far behind.

Nick Statt Former Staff Reporter / News
Nick Statt was a staff reporter for CNET News covering Microsoft, gaming, and technology you sometimes wear. He previously wrote for ReadWrite, was a news associate at the social-news app Flipboard, and his work has appeared in Popular Science and Newsweek. When not complaining about Bay Area bagel quality, he can be found spending a questionable amount of time contemplating his relationship with video games.
Nick Statt
2 min read

From left to right, the iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Mini 2 and iPad Air. Sarah Tew/CNET

For both Apple and consumers this holiday season, the iPhone appears to be the gift that keeps giving.

Apple devices accounted for 51.3 percent of all device activations in the week leading up to December 25, according to mobile analytics firm Flurry, with more than two-thirds of those devices being medium-size smartphones. In second place was Samsung with 17.7 percent of all device activations, and Nokia coming in third with 5.3 percent.

Flurry deduced the activation numbers for device manufacturers by tracking which mobile operating system's version of popular apps like Instagram and Facebook were downloaded between December 21 and December 25. Similar to years past, says Flurry, app downloads spiked 150 percent in the week leading up to Christmas, with the largest jump in downloads occurring that day.

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Notably, Microsoft's Nokia line of devices grabbed a sizable chunk of the market when compared with non-Apple gadgets. Flurry

"To put this in perspective, for every Samsung device that was activated, Apple activated 2.9 devices. For every Microsoft Lumia device activated, Apple activated 8.8 devices," Jarah Euston, Flurry's vice president of analytics and marketing, wrote Monday. Flurry provides analytics to more than 190,000 companies covering around 600,000 mobile apps.

Headed into 2014, Apple faced criticism for failing to address the increasing demand for larger screens on smartphones, keeping its iPhone 5S, which debuted in September 2013, with the same 4-inch display as its predecessor. With the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which introduced 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch displays, Apple sold a record 39.3 million devices in the quarter ended September 30 and 10 million units in the first weekend alone.

Apple in 2014: iPhone 6, iCloud hack, Beats and more (pictures)

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Flurry's report also serves as another testament to the growing popularity of these larger-screen devices, dubbed phablets, that are quickly gaining ground against devices with smaller screens and eating away at the market share of those with larger ones.

Since 2013, the percentage of new activations of full-size tablets declined from 17 percent of all devices to 13 percent, while the percentage of smaller tablets like Apple's iPad Mini fell from 12 percent of total activations to 11 percent.

Phablets, on the other hand, jumped significantly from 4 percent of all activations last year to 13 percent, while medium-size phones fell a single percentage to 64 percent.