Web share is misused when used to show market share
0. phoneArena 04 Feb 2013, 11:17 posted on
We've been thinking on this topic for a while now, and we've finally come to a conclusion: web share is the worst metric available to show market share. We've all seen the data, often from Chitika or other ad-tracking networks, which try to show the breakdown of the mobile market using web share rates and ad tracking statistics. Almost every time you see this sort of data, the numbers skew towards iOS, and almost always they are completely divorced from what we see with sales rates around the world...
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1. downphoenix (Posts: 2727; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)
Personally, I think these stat sites are paid off by Apple. If anything, Android users tend to be more demanding with web usage than Iphones, Iphones seem to be the casual phone. My mother in law just got an iphone, guess what she uses it for? Same thing her flip phone was used for, calls, text, camera. My wife's boss? Same thing. Im sure with people who buy lower end android handsets, that would also ring true for them, but Iphones are definitely for casuals.
3. gmracer1 (Posts: 646; Member since: 28 Dec 2012)
LOL that is exactly why I refer to the iPhone always as an 'advanced basic phone.'
Androids are for the people who want a real 'smart'phone.
11. lyndon420 (Posts: 2801; Member since: 11 Jul 2012)
That's why you never see an iphone listed under a carrier's smartphone category for phones. They always have their own category which doesn't contain the words smart or super.
12. gmracer1 (Posts: 646; Member since: 28 Dec 2012)
haha I like your last sentence xD
But..........go to vzw.com, click Shop --> Smartphones. There, you will see Apple under the Brand/Platform category.
27. JeffdaBeat (unregistered)
AT&T has iPhones under smartphones as well.
16. quakan (Posts: 1276; Member since: 02 Mar 2011)
Right, that's why there are more mid to low end Android phones sold than high end.
7. hepresearch (unregistered)
iPhones are definitely also used beyond the "casual" mobile user group... they are also the predominant device used by the predominant group of mobile users: the "convenience" mobile users. These are individuals who are likely to use their phones heavily, but not for doing anything beyond the daily tasks which they are familiar with, such as using their mobile browser to find nearby restaraunts, using their mobile browser to alert them of traffic snags on their daily commute, using their A-GPS with a mapping solution to find their way just about everywhere, etc. Unlike "power" users, they are not using lots of varying apps, but instead are hitting the mobile data very hard with their conventional browser... and thus most heavily skewing the ad stats among all users, just as Michael has most intelligently pointed out to us. The iPhone draws "convenience" users like moths to a flame because of its ubiquity, its broad public appeal, and its strong image as an intuitive and simple device among smartphones.
In contrast, Android has strong appeal with "power" users... not so much because they use lots of data (which they often do, often just as much as "convenience" users, and sometimes even more, by far), but because they do interesting and unique things with their devices, which tends toward the app-heavy multitasking high-specs side of things. They are also among the larger user groups, probably either a distant second behind the "convenience" users or a close third behind the "casual" users. There is also another large group, the "social" users, who have the greatest tendency to go after the most popular devices just for the sake of popularity, and there are quite a few of them as well... the iPhone and BlackBerry are their historic staples.
Then there are the "enterprise" users, who were dominated by BlackBerry in the past, and have now split toward both Android and iPhone fairly evenly as far as I can tell. BlackBerry is likely to win some of them back. I orginally thought that Windows Phone was making a bid to win back the smallest crowd, the "compatibility" users, by replacing thier old Windows Mobile with something improved, but over time I have come to realize that Windows Phone is not nearly as widely compatible with PC's as Windows Mobile was... if anything, Windows Phone is compatible with only one thing: the "Cloud." Thus far, I do not know of anyone that is much further ahead in that race. The "compatibility" users, who seek wide compaitibility with multiple common device platform types for the sake of peer-to-peer sharing of information, are a dying breed simply because everyone else is already getting their compatibility needs fulfilled by the "Cloud," and can move on to getting a second element of mobile use to focus on (either "casual," "convenience," "power," "social," or "enterprise").
8. hepresearch (unregistered)
Thus, the only group that doesn't seem to like the iPhone as much as Android is the "power" user group. "Enterprise" users are split between Android and iPhone closely, but still lovingly remember their BlackBerries. "Compatibility" users died off with Symbian and Windows Mobile, the latter of which they mostly all grew to hate by the end, anyway. All other user groups are heavily, even unnaturally, skewed toward a fiercely loyal love, affection, and adoration for Apple's iPhone.
10. hepresearch (unregistered)
Come to think of it, the "casual" user crowd is probably split between the elderly users whose children buy them an iPhone just to keep in touch (and for emergencies), and the young prepaid crowd who buy from the plentiful selection of cheap Android devices that give the rest of Android's true flagships an often not-so-deserved bad reputation. Perhaps the "casual" user is still divided between Android and iPhone... and if the iPhone's price ever came low enough, or Android devices' prices became high enough thanks to more litigation activities, the balance would finally tip in the iPhone's favor completely for that whole user group. I doubt that things will get quite that bad, though, anytime soon.
Convenience -- iOS wins
Casual -- iOS/Android split
Power -- Android wins
Social -- iOS wins
Enterprise -- total BlackBerry/iOS/Android toss-up?
(I think BlackBerry's return will cut into Android more than iOS)
Compatibility -- non-existant (no winner)
Windows Phone dominates no category at all... unless they remain cheap enough to draw more "casual" users.
While "convenience" users seem to be most plentiful in the US, England, Canada, and Japan, it is then no surprise that the iPhone is so popular in these nations. Furthermore, life expectancy is longer in these same places, and thus the "casual" users include just as many of the elderly as there are young people just starting out in the mobile world.
In other places, it is possible that the smaller population of elderly folk skews the "casual" user group to be made of mostly the younger generations who seek a bargain on their device, and use less services in order to save money. Furthermore, it would appear that "power" users are much more common than "convenience" users in other countries; just as Symbian once catered to them best, so too Android now caters to them better.
These forces of demography, largely split along geopolitical and economic boundaries, are what justify a large portion of my prediction that Apple will dominate in the US, if not also in Great Britain, Canada, and Japan, while Android will rule over the rest of the world in this mobile duopoly, until such time that Google is forced by litigation to dump Android on another buyer, presumably Sony. Then, Windows Phone will become the "casual" user dominant mobile OS, and Sony will make Android even more powerful and pretty... but also very expensive and exclusive, much like Apple and BlackBerry are now.
Take a look at these, and tell me what you think:
19. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2693; Member since: 26 May 2011)
I love how you're expressing your ideas. Just one question though: why do you say iOS is better for social users? I'd think the share menu makes that an easy win for Android.
25. buccob (Posts: 2008; Member since: 19 Jun 2012)
I completely agree here... not to mention that the openness of Android native features such as Gtalk makes it compatible with everyone who has a PC or Mac connected to Gmail, Blackberries with Gtalk, iPhones and iPads with Vtok and of course Androids...
In contrast, iMessage is closed to apple products... quite popular, but closed...
Last year I used to have maybe 5 friends on Gtalk... and around 3 online on average... right now is close to 50 with 20 online all the time... And this is an invitation-chat-app... unlike Whatsapp which adds all your contacts...
28. hepresearch (unregistered)
Yes, iMessage is closed, and so was BBM for a long time. But, iPhones and BlackBerries could still access many of the open messaging options as well. Look at the demographic groups... look at the things they want by virtue of their standing in society. Apple users LOVE having the ability to access many different services, but still having that one or two that are EXCLUSIVE to their platform... it makes them feel so very special and important.
Furthermore, I hear the cries of many an iPhone fan here that tells us, over and over again, that the iPhone folks are under-represented here, and that the Android folks are significantly over-represented. I am compelled to agree with them: in truth, is it not generally those who consider themselves "power" users, and often those of us either in the industry, or formerly in the industry, or even the hobbyists among us, who are the ones who visit here frequently? Power users are dominated by Android right now. Which group of users most associates with iOS? Convenience users! And, by virtue of their lifestyle, aren't "convenience" users more likely to NOT come here to visit? By virtue of their primary mobile usage OBJECTIVE, they are among the least likely of all to visit here, because their lives are already so busy... and they are depending upon their phone, usually an iPhone, to get them through their day with as little added drama as possible... and thus, they do not have the time, or the interest, to stop by here and stand in solidarity with their fellow iPhone-toting comrades. It is not CONVENIENT for them to take time out of their busy schedule to stop in and support gallito, or taco, or mxyzptlk, or whomever, in their quest to preach to us the gospel of iPhonery...
In truth, there is a HUGE chunk of American society that gets an iPhone for the sake of convenience, and little else. And they use tons of data that is not constrained to app use...
26. hepresearch (unregistered)
Ah... great question. That is because of the definition of "social" being used here. I would prefer to think of these groups in terms of objective, rather than functionality: for example, you may think that a phone that is great for sharing content to different social media outlets is clearly something for the "social" user, when, in fact, it does not fit the definition of a "social" user that I have used here. In reality, a "social" user is not necessarily so concerned with delivery of their social media content as they are with pleasing their friends by getting the same device that their peers have all gotten before them. In this regard, the popularity and automatic ubiquity of the iPhone is a huge factor, perhaps even the most powerful factor, in fact.
The "share menu" from Android actually is attached more to the "compatibility" user function set, where such "content-to-the-Cloud" functions are considered to be vitally important. Many different platforms have developed in this regard in recent years, to the point that it sometimes seems like a toss-up that can only be swayed by one's choice of delivery ecosystem. No longer are users worried so much about having the right data cable to connect thier mobile to their PC... no, now they all sync seamlessly to the "Cloud", regardless of make or OS, and it is on the "Cloud" that their PC's sync to the same account... whether that is at iTunes, or at Outlook.com, or at Google.com, or a corporate Exchange server, or a corporate BES, or wherever.
Your social media preferences may have differing strengths from one OS to another, but in general they all find support on your smartphone these days, and so "social" users are not so concerned with the delivery method, as much as they are concerned about having a device that their peers will think is "the bee's knees."
29. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2693; Member since: 26 May 2011)
Interesting. So, by your definition of social, Android could probably never be that because there are so many options? I guess the Samsung Galaxy S series would come the closest.
I'm not sure I totally agree. Admittedly, Apple has been playing up the social status/cultural touchstone idea for the iPhone, but just because it isn't the same hardware doesn't mean you can't connect with friends over the software. I mean, if social can gather around Windows and Linux, it should be possible for Android.
30. hepresearch (unregistered)
Yes, the Galaxy S III certainly is the closest thing Android has to that. But, the fact remains that, when thinking of groups of people (in the US) who IDENTIFY with their mutually-shared product image, Apple's iPhone takes the cake by far, and hence wins the category. Apple HAS been playing up the culture/status, and it is WORKING with the silent majority, especially among the largest mobile personality group in the US, the "convenience" users. Overseas, this may certainly be a different story, where Samsung's Galaxy S III (and hence Android) rules the roost, and perhaps BlackBerry will be taking a shot at that, as well.
This definition has nothing to do with social networking savvy... remember that is universal to nearly all platforms now, though some will see advantages in one over another, but those tend to balance out over the greater population. Social networking has been reduced to a software feature for "compatibility" users... which we all are in some fashion or another largely because of social networking and the "Cloud." This is part of why I have separated out these features from the "social" user-specific crowd... I don't want to taint a legitimate category of study with data from another category that is now quite unbiased in most ways, and thus will produce no clear or definitive result on its own, and can only deaden and dumb-down the results of another group when its factors are mixed in.
So, I have to separate out the social-networking factor that you are talking about... the "social" user group has to be about a common identity, first and foremost, and also about overall social clout and status, and so social-networking is something that has to drop out of that category because it is now fairly universal to all OS's, and really is now a matter of compatibility, which is also now fairly universal thanks to the "Cloud" solution on basically every post-classical smartphone. It is about social behavior of a group, not their ability to post photos to facebook or message their friends on twitter...
31. hepresearch (unregistered)
Perhaps it is better to think of it this way... don't think of the "social" user group in terms of being defined by the functional capabilities of their devices, but rather by the "herd mentaility" that these users align with when in the presence of their friends. In my home town, I know a handful of people who have either Android devices or WP8 devices, but I know that most of the rest have an iPhone, and I see them daily, and they see me daily. The average iPhone user in this town identifies heavily with their fellow iPhone users. They also have a tendency, when I am with my friends who own iPhones and a couple who don't (including myself), to get preachy to those of us who don't have one, and tell us that we would be much happier with our phone services if we would just bite the cost-bullet and buy an iPhone already.
On the other hand, my friends who use Android are very free-spirited individuals, and while they don't tell anybody else what to do, they don't let anyone else tell them what to do, either. They do their own thing, and don't run with the "cool" social crowds (who, around here, generally have their iPhones in common). My friend and his wife who use Windows Phones are a different story... they don't really identify with anyone, and are quite withdrawn entirely from most social stuff, except on facebook... but then again, facebook is a great big hodge-podge, and it isn't like they go around telling all of their friends that they have WP8 devices. They didn't even buy their devices, and they didn't feel like spending any money on new phones (he already had a BlackBerry Curve 8300, inherited from his old job he retired from, that still worked fine for him, and his wife didn't even have a mobile phone before)... they were given to them by their son who works at Microsoft. They didn't even care, at all, to begin with, and just accepted it because they were given to them as a gift.
Social networks are an identity unto themselves in the overwhelming majority of cases, and so are largely independent from the mobile OS's of the users who join them. When you are in public with your friends is where the "social" user mentality really kicks in, if that is a component of your mobile personality type. It is all about how you see others' phones, and how others you associate with see your phone. The 'herd menatility' drives this behavior, as well as the idea that some phone users will also have the additional behavior of viewing others who do not share the same device as socially inferior. This behavior, in the US, and in my opinion, is most heavily ascribed to users of the iPhone.
32. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2693; Member since: 26 May 2011)
I understand what you're saying, but I'm just not sure I agree with your supposition that hardware is a make or break feature for the social user. I understand that everyone wants to have what their friends have, and that is more visible with iOS and BlackBerry, because both the hardware and software are the same.
But, that seems like a mentality of high schoolers, and wouldn't apply nearly as much to people in college and older. As long as your phone has the apps that people use to connect (FB, Twitter, Skype, WhatsApp, SnapChat, etc), then the hardware you are using compared to your friends doesn't matter anymore.
34. hepresearch (unregistered)
Yes, it is a high-school-ish mentality, but more and more there are full-grown adults in this world who managed to never grow out of it. I can't tell you how many times I see this scenario repeated over and over again... a young person (not in high-school, but perhaps in college or just living and working in close proximity to many similar-aged peers), in their 20's or 30's, has a LOT of friends in their hang-out group that have iPhone's, either because their folks bought them one as a college graduation gift, or because their work gave them one. They want one too, because their friends talk it up sooooooo much. Young person goes to the store... they have a feature phone on Virgin Mobile, and that iPhone 4S is $499 or so, and they end up getting a Motorola Triumph instead, because it doesn't break the bank as bad. Now, when they go back to their friends to show off the device, they discover that the tune has not changed... "Go and get that iPhone that will make you happy and cool like the rest of us, and get rid of that... whatever that thing is... that you are afflicted with right now." But this young person doesn't have the awesome job that some of their friends have, nor do they get insanely expensive gifts from their parents for graduating college. Without the money to buy an iPhone at full-price, or the credit to establish themselves a contract account at a major carrier, they are now miserable over the fact that all they could get was this stinkin' Moto Triumph: I have watched this scenario play out over, and over, and over again, and again, and again.
Yes, this may seem laughable. Yes, it is a highly immature way to look at social life... but I know sooo many people who live this way, despite being full grown adults and having been successful at college, or in a career. I know even more people who behave this way who are quite the opposite... the "failure to launch" crowd. In my community, this is a widespread deal, and for me, though it may seem perfectly innocent to some, it crosses the line from social herding into full-on bullying. I was bullied most of my childhood, whether it was in middle shcool or high school or at my youth Sunday School class at church, so I know it when I see it. This is right there, and in the open, and accepted publicly as a way of social behavior, and it makes me upset to watch other people suffer through this. As for me, I could care less, but I don't like it when other people fall into this trap, either as the snobbish over-class or as the socially-sensitive victim.
Most of us here are full-on "power" users, each in our own right, and so we likely don't care too much about these sorts of childish social stunts. But there are people in that "social" user group, whose primary objective when purchasing a smartphone is to be like their friends, and to carry a device that is "socially accepted" among their peers, and when they do not have the means to do so, they often suffer needlessly.
15. quakan (Posts: 1276; Member since: 02 Mar 2011)
@downphoenix Really? Your mother-in-law is not a good representation for all iPhone users. The same thing your mother-in-law uses her phone for is exactly what can be seen with any device. There are plenty of people who use their iPhones for more than casual usage, me included.
By the way your bias is showing.
2. sorcio46 (Posts: 420; Member since: 27 Jul 2011)
It' s simple! Android users (specially the tablet users) use the "Desktop Mode" in their browsers to enjoy the full web experience even with flash player which is not available in iOS ;-), so they are detected as "Desktop" users :D
4. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2693; Member since: 26 May 2011)
but the user agent string would still say Android.
6. sorcio46 (Posts: 420; Member since: 27 Jul 2011)
Not in every Browser, if you go with Dolphin, you will be seen as an OSX machine running Safari. Same thing for the CM Browser.
13. housry23 (Posts: 95; Member since: 03 Jun 2012)
This is true. The stock Android browser in CM shows as Safari. I have gotten the "this browser is not supported" message at certain sites and it shows as Safari. This could also skew the statistics on these tests.
20. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2693; Member since: 26 May 2011)
But then you're splitting the numbers more and more. The number of users that either use Dolphin or CM Browser is small enough, but they'd have to be using the desktop mode a huge amount for it to really matter in studies of the size that we're talking about.
14. kingpet13 (Posts: 139; Member since: 02 Feb 2012)
I just tried it and my Galaxy nexus stock browser on 4.1.1 in desktop mode was detected as linux x64. While in chrome it was considered Android.
5. sonyisdead (banned) (Posts: 30; Member since: 30 Jan 2013)
"In general, the iPad is the tablet of choice for older people who may not bother much with apps, but are still used to using a browser to find what they need."
What? Apps are one of the main feature of iOS devices.
17. Stuntman (Posts: 828; Member since: 01 Aug 2011)
At least with the people I know who use iPhones, about half of them use it just as a phone. My wife doesn't even have a data plan for her iPhone.
18. Zero0 (Posts: 592; Member since: 05 Jul 2012)
I have to disagree.
I think that user agent spoofing has a huge effect. "Request desktop site" is easily accessed, and though power users who change to a different user agent (iOS or otherwise) are not the majority, they are _power_ users. They are a vocal minority -- they browse disproportionately often.
21. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2693; Member since: 26 May 2011)
But wouldn't power users like that also be using apps more often, which would mitigate the amount of time they're in a browser?
24. -box- (Posts: 3967; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)
Not necessarily. Apps tend to restrict what data is seen, and many are just a portal of the mobile site. As a bit of a power user myself who never uses an app for what the browser can do (which is almost always better) and uses the desktop mode, I find it preferable in every instance I have yet encountered.
23. -box- (Posts: 3967; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)
Thank you, Michael, for yet another great article. It is most refreshing after Alan's previously-presented perspective
33. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2693; Member since: 26 May 2011)
I had been meaning to write this a while back, but never got around to it, so Alan's article served as a kickstart for me.