It’s a question that people have asked since last year: How many Android tablets have been sold? We’ve seen a lot of companies announce shipment estimates, and we’ve even taken our own guesses at it, but no one ever knew a ball park figure that could be considered trustworthy. However, considering that Andy Rubin started this whole Android thing and remains at the helm, we’ll take his word for it.

At the Asia: D conference, Google SVP of Engineering Andy Rubin gave an interview with the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg about Android. When Mossberg asked “How come Android tablets have completely flopped in the marketplace?” Rubin countered that there are more than six million Android tablets running Google’s services. That six million does not include forked tablets like the Nook Color; only officially-sanctioned devices that run Google’s apps and the Android market.

The six million number is pretty low in comparison to the 30 million reported by Apple, but it’s “pretty healthy” according to Rubin. It’s also unclear if Rubin was referring to only Honeycomb tablets or all approved tablets like the original Samsung Galaxy Tab. We recently estimated that Google’s tablet sales of Honeycomb devices were at 3.24 million. Under the formula the we used (total device activations x percent of Honeycomb users on APV chart), the number should have climbed only to 3.48 million today. My guess is that the 6 million count also includes all official, active Gingerbread tablets like the HTC Flyer and original Galaxy Tab users yet to upgrade.

Whatever the case, Android clearly has some work to do when it comes to increasing tablet adoption. “Six million is pretty healthy, but it is not 30 million,” Rubin told Mossberg. “Obviously, we need to get there.”

Rubin also had some kind words for the Amazon Kindle Fire, the very device that will probably put a massive dent in efforts to get more Google-sanctioned tablets in the market. Read the full interview live blog here; below are the choice quotes on the Kindle Fire.

  • I create an open operating system and somebody uses it. Am I okay with that?
  • I think it is fine for Google. It is Android. It adheres to the APIs of Android.
  • I don’t view this as some kind of walled garden.
  • Maybe this is going to solve the tablet problem

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