Amid “disappointing sales,” data suggests Motorola is nearly even with HTC in one respect

The Moto X may not be the hit that Google(s goog) hoped for, says Strategy Analytics. The research firm on Monday evening said via the Wall Street Journal that only 500,000 Moto X phones were sold in the third quarter. But there’s good news as well: Data from Chitika suggests that in North America, web usage on Motorola phones has caught up to that of HTC phones. If the trend continues, Motorola would be behind only Samsung when it comes to web surfing on Android smartphones.

Google hasn’t announced any sales figures for its Motorola division and frankly, I don’t expect it to. The company has never, for example, shared sales data for its Nexus handsets or tablets. So it’s not easy to determine if the 500,000 Moto X sales Strategy Analytics estimates is accurate or not. Even if it is, the Moto X isn’t the only potential smartphone money-maker for Google.

Droid Ultra

Just prior to the Moto X launch, Verizon(s vz)(s vod) introduced three Moto Droid Ultra handsets that are very similar to the Moto X. The differences are mainly in size, battery capacity and cost. All three offer the same features unique to the Moto X including touchless controls and the active display for notifications. So while the Moto X sales may disappoint, they represent only a part of the Motorola handset portfolio. There’s also no version for outside North America, although that’s expected to change tomorrow with the Moto G launch.

To be fair, I think Google and Motorola botched the Moto X launch in at least one respect: Allowing AT&T(s t) to have exclusive access to the MotoMaker program where customers could custom order their phone. As of yesterday, that exclusive is over and the Moto X is $100 less expensive, but the damage is done: The biggest sales of any phone typically take place during the launch window.

Having said that, I find Chitika’s data very interesting; partially because it looks at all of the Motorola phones, not just the X. Based on tens of millions of U.S. and Canadian ad impressions on Chitika’s Ad Network through the month of October, web surfing activity on Motorola phones is nearly even with browsing on HTC phones.

october web moto htc

Chitika’s data also says that Motorola’s total share of web browsing in the U.S. and Canada rose from 3.8 percent to 4.1 percent last month; that figure includes all of Motorola’s handsets.

I never expected Motorola to come back with a huge market share in a short time once Google got involved, so how disappointing is the situation? Not very; Google is looking at the long haul with Motorola. And it’s trying to offer highly capable handsets with innovative new features at lower prices to drive down the cost of smartphones and tablets. The cheaper they are, the more people can afford them and get online, which is exactly what Google wants to happen.