The Android platform runs on a wide variety of devices. Google works with around 40 separate manufacturers, all producing Android smartphones. According to Andy Rubin back in June 2011 there are 500,000 Android activations a day. There’s plenty to argue about over exactly what that means, but it is safe to say that more Android devices have been sold in the last few months than devices on any other platform.
What does Google make from every Android device sold? What’s their cut? The surprising answer is -- absolutely nothing.
The Android platform is distributed for free. In fact because of the patent wars and licensing issues Microsoft is making more from the direct sale of Android smartphones than Google is. Because of the patents that Microsoft holds they are able to demand royalty payments on Android devices. There isn’t much transparency with these deals, but reportedly HTC pay Microsoft $5 for every Android smartphone they sell and Microsoft is seeking $15 per handset from Samsung.
Bizarrely this means that Microsoft make more money from Android than they do from Windows Phone 7.
Google did release two handsets of their own, manufactured by HTC and Samsung. The Google Nexus One and the Google Nexus S must have brought some cash in, but neither was a huge success and they never revealed what their profit margin on each handset actually was.