A motion chart for the mobile phone market

The charts published here typically show data across two dimensions, (X-axis and Y-axis). Since many times we have to look at data over these dimensions and through time, there are no easy ways to do it without some iteration of the same chart.

As an alternative a “Motion Chart” let you look at data across up to five dimensions (X-axis, Y-axis, Color, Size and Time). This is a dynamic flash-based chart that allows you to explore several industry/vendor indicators over time. You can:

  • Select x-axis from seven options
  • Select y-axis from five options
  • Select type of chart (tabs in the upper right of chart: bubble, bar, line)
  • Set color from several variables
  • Set bubble size from several variables
  • Select to track individual companies (and enable tracks or trails that trace the patch of individual bubbles)
  • Play through time (and change playback speed)
  • Scrub through time manually over any time range
  • Mouse-over any data point for the actual values it represents in all dimensions (mouse-over and click to select to track that vendor)

This data and chart are updated and available at higher resolution at the following (permanent) location:

  • K447

    Flash based charts do not work on iPad.

    • Shaun

      Tell that to Google.

    • asymco

      If someone can port this chart "widget" to HTML5, I would be very happy to use it.

    • Sacto Joe

      I used CloudBrowse to view it on my iPad 2. Very impressive, if a tad slow. Gives you a real feel for the implacable nature of Apple's takeover of mobil devices.

      • Sacto Joe

        I just checked it out on my big iMac. A little faster, especially with multiple companies picked.

        The thing that leaps out is that you're obviously lumping all cell phones together, smart and otherwise. Is there just insufficient information to pull out the smartphone info on its own?

      • asymco

        That's right, we just don't have the data for a breakdown by phone categories.

  • Thanks for continuing to push the envelope Horace. Sometimes "pushing the envelope" is simply bringing existing things (with some tweaks) to a wider audience, like some company we know. 🙂

    A picture is worth a thousand words, a moving picture a thousand more. And a moving picture in 5 dimensions — that's nothing short of awesome.

    When we see visualizations like this, it's clear that the individual mobile device players are just like 3D amoebas, constantly moving, with advancing and contracting fingers, and growing larger or smaller in volume. Visualizations like this offer such a sharp contrast to word-based articles we STILL read on a daily basis which cite single market share numbers, making them seem so 1990.

    This is why you, Horace, say "I use words as punctuation to the lyrical tale told by numbers." You could also say "I use words as punctuation to the lyrical tale told by numbers visualized."

    — Visualizations of Complex Information – A Story

    To information specialists, we are painfully aware of how words are so convenient, but significantly more powerful graphics and visualizations are still too difficult to utilize by most of us. That's too bad. Things will only get better by spreading awareness, then following that up with insistence and demand. Visualizing what we see or mean shouldn't have to be like learning to surf or play tennis. It should be as easy as going for a run or lifting weights.

    In my sub-world of object-oriented programming, experienced iOS/Mac OS developers all have a 3D living model in their heads of the structure and relationship of objects and the messages that pass between them. But educating a new person to be a programmer involves only words. There are over 70 books currently in print teaching how to write apps for the iPhone, all composed of 98% words, arranged as fragmented subjects only partially sequential, and sparsely punctuated with 2D imagery. A newbie must spend months, even years assembling it all in their own heads into an incorrect, and then corrected 3D living model. But Apple is a stone's throw from Pixar. Hmmmmm.

    There's got to be a better way! And I can see a better way of handling this, but I'm powerless to do anything about it, because like everyone else I don't have the skill set. All I can do is spread awareness.

    And, also by pointing out this zinger — if you just watch the series The Mechanical Universe and Beyond from 1985, the creators somehow figured out how to do jaw-dropping 3D visualizations of complex math and physics that made understanding it literally child's play. You just have to scratch your head and wonder what's happened since.

    The first step is getting people to understand that something is "unworthy of the second decade of the 21st century" as I often say.

    Thanks again Horace!

    • berult

      Nothing can render transparency better than the cutting edge of a wordsmiths' poetry… 

    • You can find and watch all 52 videos from the 1985 series The Mechanical Universe and Beyond from CalTech here…

      Particularly interesting for Apple fans is the one on Newton's Apple called "The Apple and the Moon." Scrub to 15 minutes in and watch a visualization of equations being evaluated. If only we saw this when we were taking Algebra in school.

      And to get a sense of all the other amazing 3D visualizations used throughout the series so abundantly you can watch the final episode which is essentially of an overview and summary of the entire series called "The Quantum Mechanical Universe." Don't let the subject matter scare you. You also don't want to miss seeing college fashion and hair styles in the mid-80's either!

  • chris

    In Firefox and Safari on my intel iMac, I cannot see the entire image, I need to scroll to see it. Going to the link is the only way to get a good feel for the figures.

    • Walt French

      Ditto in Chrome on my MacBook Pro, the only s/w that does Flash for me these days. A lot of great work in creating the visuals gets lost for me, too.

  • Hap

    Fantastic. If I smoked pot I'd probably be watching the different combinations for hours on end.

    The permanent link animation displays beautifully.

  • Using the data from the tool-tips in the Google chart, I created the following in Tableau Public:

  • KenC

    I love these Rosling-style charts! The Big Blue dot!

  • Patrick Nolan

    Can you share the Google Spreadsheet URL for this?

    • asymco

      Look in the right column of this page and click on image under "Explore Vendor Data". In that page you will see the same chart with additional links at the bottom. Click "Vendor data".

  • I charted the underlying data for volume share and revenue share with their Gini inequality measure on my Blog at

    By Q3’08 with the iPhone 3GS is when Apple started to shake things up in this market.