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The Android engagement paradox

IBM’s Digital Analytics Benchmark reported US Black Friday sales and the news is reasonably good. Overall online sales grew by 17.4% while mobile grew to make up 24% of traffic.

The data goes further to show the split between device types. I illustrate this split with the following graphs:

Of the 24% of traffic made up by mobile devices, phones contributed 13% and tablets 11% (or 54% and 46% of mobile respectively). Of the phone traffic, iOS devices were about two thirds of traffic and Android one third. Of tablet traffic, iPad was 88%, Kindle and Nook were 5.5% Galaxy Tab was 1.8% and other tablets were 4.4%.

Overall, iOS was 77% generated mobile traffic and Android (excl. Kindle, Nook) was 23%.

That’s an interesting snapshot of the consumption of mobile devices, but is there a pattern here? I also took a look at the same data from 2011 and 2010.

Besides the pattern of significant mobile growth (from 5.2% to 24% of online in two years) there is the curious effect of iOS growth outpacing Android growth. Android went from 1.43% of Black Friday shopping traffic in 2010 to 4.92% in 2012. In same time iOS went from 3.85% to 18.46%. In other words, while Android is up by a factor of 3.4, iOS is up by a factor of 4.8.

The reason is evident in the graphs above: the iPad is now the predominant mobile shopping device. You can observe the pattern in the following graph:

Two years ago the iPad was trailing Android usage but this year it was more than twice Android usage. Curiously, the iPhone seems to also be pulling ahead of Android.

Curiously because the number of Android users in the US has gone the other way. That data is available from ComScore, though only for phones. (ComScore data for periods ending November each year, Nov 2012 is my estimate):

Having the number of users and the traffic allows us to measure consumption per capita, so to speak. That is, the percent of traffic per device user:

The ratio shown is basis points of usage (1/100 of 1% of shopping traffic) per million users of smartphones. iPhone users are about three times more engaged in shopping with their devices than Android users. Two years ago the ratio was two to one.

Overall iPad is changing shopping habits, but it has a near monopoly in its form factor at this point. The bigger question is what is causing phone users to behave differently based on the devices they own. The phone market is more mature and has had several years of competition to be able to discern differences in platforms. The pattern is pretty clear with respect to Android: engagement is down as ownership is up. This pattern has not exhibited itself with iPhone, even though it has had a longer time in market.

Of course, one would expect that later adopters would engage less, but I find it surprising that US Android users would behave so differently only two years after the platform began to be widely adopted. That pattern is not happening with iOS even after five years and certainly not with the iPad which is about as old as most Android brands.

This I consider to be a paradox: Why is Android attracting late adopters (or at least late adopter behavior) when the market is still emergent? We’ve become accustomed to thinking that platforms that look similar are used in a similar fashion. But this is clearly not the case. The shopping data is only one proxy but there are others: developers and publishers have been reporting distinct differences in consumption on iOS vs. Android and, although anecdotal, the examples continue to pile up.

And engagement is not a frivolous platform attribute. It is highly causal to success because it correlates with all cash flows associated with ecosystem value creation. Especially when a platform like Android depends more on engagement than “monetizing hardware.”

I’m not satisfied with the explanation that Android users are demographically different because the Android user pool is now so vast and because the most popular devices are not exactly cheap. There is something else at play. It might be explained by design considerations or by user experience flaws or integration but something is different.

If you’d like to learn more about the Asymco method, come to Asymconf. The next Asymconf will be at the end of January near San Jose. Not only will you learn about how mobile is disrupting computing, you will also get to hobnob with the likes of Om Malik, Jean-Louis Gassée and Michael Lopp.

  • Narayanan

    Interesting data

    The 30%engagement for Android is in line with the revelations of the Apple-Samsung courtroom battles. The high end phones such as Galaxy S2 was about a third of the overall Samsung sales. So at high end of the market spectrum the use cases are similar.

    But the main take away is that the actual Android marketshare needs to be discounted substantially for a realistic comparison of marketshare worth.

    • http://twitter.com/__MarkW__ Mark Wilcox

      Exactly, iPhone is comparable with the high-end Android devices only. The engagement paradox only exists when you look at the average for the whole Android device population. You don’t need to resort to anecdotal evidence to back this up, there is plenty of browser usage data out there that shows a similar pattern.

      For shopping you expect even larger differences than just web usage since the users with the most disposable income are likely to have the most expensive phones.

      • http://twitter.com/chicocan1 Chico can

        I disagree that you should only be making a comparison at the “high end” of Android devices. This data compares both ecosystems in their entirety – includes $0.01 Android devices and 3.5 year old iPhone 3GS. If you are only comparing a select group of Android phones, then Horace should only include the group of iPhones that also have the highest engagement (iPhone 4S & 5 seem likely imho).

      • Kizedek

        I don’t entirely agree with you. Sounds like you are proposing a bell curve: Find out which iPhones are “engaging” most and cream those off to compete with the cream of the Android phones.

        The point is, and always has been, that *all iOS devices* ARE heavily “engaging”, no matter how old they are. Indeed, that IS a startling difference between iOS devices and Android devices.

        What it says is that:
        1) iOS devices are hired for different jobs than the vast majority of Android devices
        2) You MUST get a high-end Android device if you even want to approach the jobs iOS devices are hired for.

        Therefore, the reality is once again reinforced: general Android marketshare/worth is not to be compared in any way to iOS marketshare/worth. You do indeed have to compare a very select group of Android phones to all iPhones.

        Sure the data is about all iOS and all Android devices. What Mark is proposing is some way to “level the playing field” so that it is “more fair” to Android for this metric of web usage. But this would be unacceptable to most Android fans, because it is the general vastness of Android land, including all its flavors, that people like to trumpet as so superior to iOS. They like to forget that Android has become the default OS for the majority of the phones in the world, of all kinds.

      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

        But we’re dealing with the US market where the iPhone is subsidized and where an iPhone can be obtained for $0. Furthermore, Android devices can also be obtained for $0 but have the same service plans as the iPhone. So the argument that Android equates low income does not immediately resonate. Furthermore the data measures shopping traffic not purchases. I assume those of modest means may shop as much if not more in order to find a bargain. This data at least should be demographically insensitive.

      • FalKirk

        “… the data measures shopping traffic not purchases. I assume those of modest means may shop as much if not more in order to find a bargain.”

        Excellent point, Horace. Anyone can afford to shop so this isn’t about money, it’s about engagement. This makes the disparity between Android and iOS users all the more baffling.

      • Martin

        It’s possible we see the same behavior at the low-end of the iOS market – that the $0 iPhone gets relegated to feature-phone usage. The difference is that the $0 iPhone market is presumably quite tiny, whereas the $0 Android phone is sizable. Apple has better structured their low-end phones to be upsell opportunities as compared to any of the Android players, mainly because they don’t have to compete with other $0 iPhones.

        The problem with the subsidy model is that we have no way in the US to discern the difference between a $0 smartphone and a $0 feature phone in terms of how the consumer uses the devices. Economically, a $0 phone is ‘valueless’. Nobody paid any more for it than for a feature phone. If $0 phones (of all stripes) are used the same – principally/exclusively as phones/SMS devices, then the difference between paid/free phones is significant, and that changes how we look at Android sales vs iOS sales.

        And who chooses paid/free phones should be at least somewhat demographically sensitive. I agree that demographics probably doesn’t play any role in online shopping engagement, assuming similar phone, though.

        Any way to suss out from the data how many $199+ handsets vs $1-$198 vs $0 ones by platform? If ‘value’ is measured by what consumes are willing to pay, that might tell us all we need to know. I’d wager that the top-tier handsets (from any platform) are the ones that are most engaged, an the free ones (from any platform) are the least. That would match how engagement in other platforms works.

      • Kizedek

        You can get the top/current iPhone for $0 in many European countries. And have been able to do so for some years.

        Anyway, people get a “lower end” iPhone, not because they merely want a feature phone with caché, but because *all they want to do* is synch all their data and services, surf the web, read books, listen to podcasts, use apps, play games, have voice mail, tweet, facebook, show off photos, watch movies… and the *only thing* they don’t care about and thus make do without the latest iPhone is whether or not they can comfortably shoot an HD video and edit it with iMovie.

        In other words, every iPhone user including my grandma and her three yr-old great-granddaghter uses it like a “smart”phone — they just don’t use it like a serious computer.

        And this is precisely why Apple still sells them, not to use them as “upsell opportunities”, but because they are still attractive and people continue to find a value proposition in them. In fact, it may be that children will receive the lower end iPhone (or hand me downs) while the parents will get a newer model. Not sure about your “upsell proposition” because Apple is happy to deliver value no matter which model of which product you buy. The phone will get well used for a couple of years, regardless. And it helps Apple to keep making more and more units of the old model anyway (the margins go up). A sale is a sale, and I like that Apple does not try to “upsell”; they are happy to support my choice of a low end or older model.

        I just think you can’t make a case that an iPhone at a subsidized price of 0 is somehow “relegated” to “feature-phone usage” as opposed to one you paid something up front up for. I think people are saying, “I want an iPhone, I know what you can do with it, but do I need the latest greatest?”

      • http://how2startup.com/ Roy Rodenstein

        Horace- huge fan. Comment on the $0 iPhone/Android. I do not believe, in the US at least, that the service plans are the same. Here in Boston, the subway is plastered with ads for MetroPCS “Unlimited Android” with no contract at $40/mo. or so (I don’t have the ad on hand but page 2 of this PDF has some of it; http://www.mbta.com/uploadedfiles/documents/CharlieCard_Discount%20Booklet.pdf). I’ve heard of other plans from friends, but as far as I know no major US-based carriers offer this type of deal on iPhones, whether old or new models.

      • http://davidhdennis.com/ David H Dennis

        This is correct. No contract phones have no room for subsidies and so monthly costs are much lower, and the phones have to be cheap to be affordable.

        You can get iPhone 4 on a Virgin no-contract phone for $500. Tats why people buy the junk Android phones.

        D

      • http://www.facebook.com/bob.arker.731 Bob Arker

        Is the $0 iPhone really available everywhere with decent supply? I know that you can pick up a $0 Android phone pretty much anywhere.

      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

        Not anywhere but everywhere in the US, which is the area where this post’s data was collected.

      • http://alexandersmith.co/ Benjamin Alexander

        At Thanksgiving, all we talked about were devices.

        Those of us with the least education and income have iPhones.

      • FalKirk

        “Those of us with the least education and income have iPhones.” – Benjamin Alexander

        What? Every demographic report I’ve ever seen points in the opposite direction indicating that iPhone users have more money and higher levels of education.

        In any case, it’s irrelevant to this conversation since we’re talking about shopping, not buying.

      • http://alexandersmith.co/ Benjamin Alexander

        Sorry, I didn’t qualify that enough, I was referring to my own local & extended family.

        Demographically and culturally we’re very ‘middle class’ – but individually we are all over the map, ranging in ages from 20-70, from college dropouts to multiple graduate degrees, and income from $0 to $100k+, and the distribution of iPhone is decidedly to the low end.

      • oases

        I didn’t realise it was just tracking traffic and not purchases. That makes it even more of a wow.

      • http://twitter.com/__MarkW__ Mark Wilcox

        Unlike you to not seek the data to back this up. :) You have noted yourself the strength of iPhone ASPs indicating that sales of the older models are actually quite low. On the other hand, there must be large numbers of people buying cheaper Android devices in the US, I don’t believe everyone is paying for the headline contracts that give you a free iPhone 4. There are lots of carriers and also pre-paid deals that still let you get a cheap Android device. Not all Android sales even have to come with a data plan.

        I don’t have access to comprehensive stats but whenever I’ve been able to look into analytics logs for large company websites the breakdown of the Android visitors by device is largely occupied by a fairly small and well known list of high-end devices with a much smaller fraction occupied by some similarly well-known but less expensive devices (e.g. Samsung Galaxy Ace) which sell in similar volumes. The fraction of traffic coming from the cheaper end (e.g. Samsung Galaxy Y) is much smaller still, yet they also sell 10s of millions of those.

        Are you suggesting that the entire 50%+ of the US population with smartphones all have a high-end device and are paying $70+ per month to their carrier? Seems unlikely to me.

        Mobile shopping, excluding iPad browsing (iPad demographics definitely relevant), is not suited to lengthy browsing for the cheapest deal, particularly not if you have a cheap smartphone with a smaller and lower resolution screen.

    • http://twitter.com/chicocan1 Chico can

      I disagree that you should only be making a comparison at the “high end” of Android devices. This data compares both ecosystems in their entirety – includes $0.01 Android devices and 3.5 year old iPhone 3GS.

      • http://marrin.org/ Chris Marrin

        But I think it would be extremely interesting to compare iOS devices with only a certain set of Android devices known to give a comparable experience. Perhaps reducing it to a subset which uses the latest OS and the Chrome browser would give more equitable numbers.

        Of course doing such a thing would show that this number of Android devices is much, much smaller than the totals for Android being reported in the media. This would enrage Fandroids as being biased and unfair and the discussion would quickly devolve into name calling and chest beating.

        So, never mind :-)

      • Reagan

        You’re confusing this site with Engadget, Techcrunch, The Verge.

      • Roger Mercer

        There are no Android devices that give a comparable experience to iOS. That’s why engagement is less with Android. That’s just my opinion. I could be wrong. But I don’t think so.

      • http://davidhdennis.com/ David H Dennis

        That’s true, but there are some that give a decent experience. For instance if I had a Galaxy S III I would surely find its web browsing ability useful. I don’t like it as much as my iPhone 5 or even 4, but it’s far from useless like the junk phones are.

        D

  • obarthelemy

    I think the reason is that some phones, while smart, are not really pleasant to browse the web with. I personally only browse on sub-4.5″, sub-1024×768 phones, if I really really have to. My guess would be a much larger percentage of Android phones fit that category, though it would be interesting to have a breakdown for iOS too, to see if old-iPhone owners also surf less. That would tell us if the difference is indeed due to phone specs, or other factors (disposable income, age, online culture…)

    If the phones’ specs are an explaining factor, don’t forget that people who buy limited phones do so by choice, because they know they’ll have access to something better, or can’t afford any better. If you’re chained to a desk, or have to lug around a laptop or tablet all the time anyway, getting an expensive phone might not make sense. So a really interesting statistics would be about Android vs iOS users’ online traffic and/or purchases. Not via the device, but via any means.

    • GuruFlower

      I have an iPhone 5 and I never ‘browse’ the web on it. I will read a news story linked from an app but I won’t search for it. However, I will surf with the iPad so it’s actually a real estate issue rather than a mobile issue for me. The iPhone is too small for comfortable web browsing to suit my taste.

      However, apps rock on the iPhone. I use them constantly because the software is appropriately designed for the tool. Most of the apps also distribute the same content over the web, but the app experience is far superior. The point being that better apps mean higher device usage.

      • obarthelemy

        Indeed, I’ve noticed that iOS users tend to use apps for everything, while Android users tend to just go to the website.

        - It may be habit, there used to be no Android apps. Though that’s mostly fixed, they still may be fewer or lower-quality.

        - It may be bigger screens, high end Android phones are 4.5+ inches, which makes a heck of a difference.

        - It may be choice, I kinda felt silly with 12+ apps that were only repackaging websites, each with their own interface quirks, updates, delays, bugs… so I got rid of them all and now use the mobile versions of sites.

        Which does mean that when I want to do some serious shopping, I go sit at my PC, even if the impetus was from an RSS feed or mail or ad caught on my phone, and might explain some of the iOS vs Android difference.

      • FalKirk

        “…apps rock on the iPhone” ~ GuruFlower

        “I’ve noticed that iOS users tend to use apps for everything, while Android users tend to just go to the website.” ~ obarthelemy

        Indeed, apps may be the key (if there is a key). The plethora of apps (700,000) on the Android platform may be blinding us to the reality that the quality of the apps matters.

        It’s the old story of the network effect but with a twist. While everyone has been feverishly watching market share in order to determine who was going to “win” the mobile platform wars, they should have been watching the money. Developers go, not where the units or the users are, but where the dollars are. Developers make more money on iOS, developers develop for iOS first, consumers buy more apps, consumers pay for more apps and pay more for apps.

        Perhaps Apple has already subtly won the mobile platform wars – but we just haven’t been savvy enough to notice it yet.

      • obarthelemy

        That cuts both ways, and might also explain why Android sells so much more: Android users don’t need so many apps, and many of those they do need are free, so not only is the Android hardware cheaper, but the ecosystem, too.

        Of course that attracts non-high-spenders, and fosters a non-spending culture. We’ll see if Google pushing the PlayStore more agressively, and developpers trying to get paid for their efforts, will change thing.

        Apple is indeed sitting pretty, owning the high-spending market ^^

        For the anecdote, in my case, I’m currently using *one* paid app (an RSS reader), plus I’ve got a handful just in case (office suite, …), I’ve retired most I once paid for (email, widgets, keyboards, music…) because the basic Android ones have more than caught up, and most of the apps I use are free (dlna, LAN/FTP explorer, PC remoting, multiformat video player, ebooks readers…). And a handful of paid games, just using one actually.

      • http://alexandersmith.co/ Benjamin Alexander

        Regarding your app usage, would you consider yourself a typical Android user?

      • obarthelemy

        Hard to say, I tend to contaminate everyone around me ^^ My teenager nephews/nieces seem to use more apps, whatever their platform of choice; the older adults seem to just cling frightfully to the basics.

      • Kizedek

        I noticed a couple of times (a little bit here but possibly more in another thread) that you seem to be implying that native apps are a gimmick or distraction, while all you really need to do is to visit the website.

        In other words, having noted that you can rarely find good apps that give you any better experience over the website, you seem to regard this as a positive “feature” of Android, and a drawback of iOS. Interesting.

        Of course, iOS users can also visit the websites or use web apps. This is the lowest common denominator for all systems. Happily, Flash has finally been proven to be lacking in this space. Unfortunately for you, though, all you have proven is that iOS native apps are in a completely different league to Android ones. As all the hints that developers and startups and innovators are putting their first and best efforts into iOS would lead one to expect.

        In a related thought: in one place (in a previous thread perhaps), you also implied that Android UI/apps were more consistent than iOS / iOS apps. At the same time you noted the inconsistency of the hardware back button from app to app, but anyway. What should be noted is that iOS developers have a plethora of familiar api packs to use, while at the same time the complete freedom to push the boundaries when it comes to new and innovative UIs for their apps. This is some of the charm and magic of iOS — that “the app is the device”; the app takes over the device as it were (and yet the home button is always consistent).

        So, which experience really is boring? The one which makes you throw away all your apps and revert to experiencing services through their websites; or, the platform with rows of “boring” icons, each of which opens onto a new and delightful world that is entirely appropriate to the service or function that it is connecting you to, helping you get the most out of that service or function?

      • obarthelemy

        I like boring. Boring is consistent, easy… I’m sure most people would love being bored, instead of endlessly befuddled, by their computing devices.

        I didn’t imply anything about consistency: I stated it. Actually, it reminds me of the whole one- vs two-button mouse issue, way back when, except it’s even more clear-cut is this case. Not having a Back button is kinda like a PC keyboard having no Escape key.

        I don’t know if apps on Android phones are better or worse than on iPhones. I know I dislike having to launch 10s of specific apps, learn them, update them… when a well-designed mobile website suits me better: I prefer light-on-dark reading, which I can force in my browser; I can bookmark, synch, read-it-later,… tabs for cross-platform use… That’s a personal preference though, I don’t know if Apps are better or worse on iOS or Android.

      • GuruFlower

        A couple of points:

        I asked my 23 year old tech guru (Android user) if he mainly used his browser or apps? He said it’s mostly the browser.

        Paul Santos wrote a very illuminating article last week about how apps on the iPhone run in native code but apps on Android must compile at runtime on the Java Virtual Machine which putts Android apps at a disadvantage in terms of computing power and battery life. http://seekingalpha.com/article/1018841-the-unsung-apple-advantage

        And, in particular, older Android phones may not have fast enough processors to compile and run new apps efficiently. Perhaps that’s why apps are not as popular on Android? Is that Android’s Achille’s heel?

      • obarthelemy

        I think it’s fairly irrelevant in the long term. I don’t know if the Java code is interpreted or compiled right now, nor when it is compiled (at each launch, JIT bit by bit…), but if that becomes an issue, it would be fairly easy to compile the code as part of the installation process, making the compilation penalty a one-off, transparent, inconvenience

        Not to mention that modern ARM cores include the Jazelle ARM extension that directly executes java bytecode in hardware (on an equal footing with the ARM and Thumb instruction sets) , so even the penalty for executing bytecode instead of native code is low.

        One could even imagine on-phone compilation could be an advantage, allowing each phone, at compilation, time to optimize the resulting code for its own CPU and architecture.

        Furthermore, benchmarks are not really showing an Obj-C performance advantage, though the question is a bit more complex than raw performance: you’ve got to factor in die size, power envelope, weed out software differences… to get a truer picture, which I’m not aware anyone has done, yet.

        PS I tried several google searches for Paul Santos, iphone, java.. couldn’t find him.

        Edit oh, well click the link, heh ?

      • obarthelemy

        PS: I found that some sites have very practical mobile versions ( i.wow.joystiq.com…) other are horrendous (mobile.pcmag.com). YMMV ^^

  • http://www.isophist.com/ Emilio Orione

    Confidence, the curated approach makes users much more confident in device’s security and so spending is not an hassle

    • Accent_Sweden

      I’d like to believe this is true. If you have to always be worried about viruses, you are less likely to eagerly give out your credit card number on a mobile device. Perhaps Android users are projecting their Windows paranoia onto their phones.

      I suspect, though, that this explanation is more an iOS-user rationalisation than accurate (one I’ve been guilty of using many times). If anything, I believe that the vast majority of Android users are people who’ve been swept into the world of smartphones faster than their behavior has modified to take advantage of what their devices can offer. They simply haven’t started thinking in terms of shopping on them, just as they haven’t yet realized all the potential in general with the phone. The first two years I had my first iphone, I was constantly amazing myself each time I realized something else I could do with it or discover another one-use device I could eliminate. It wasn’t a speedy process, just trial and error. Eventually, I just started assuming there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do on it. The vast majority of Andriod users are new to smartphones in the last two years and are still in the process of adopting the new lifestyle.

      • cellojoe

        It seems likely that if someone gets a device as a bargain they will associate thrifty behaviors with that device. On the other hand, if someone buys hardware at a premium, they associate spending with that device. They are also incentivized to make more incremental purchases to increase the utility of the device, and to frankly, to rationalize the purchase. :+)

      • http://www.isophist.com/ Emilio Orione

        At the beginning android was for geeks, they loved the openess, wathever it is, now is for untrained people, with difficult training time, could be.
        Fashion nowadays is to define iOS boring, instead it is really simple to use and, most important, requires less effort during use. So while new android users struggle to find a way to use some features, iOS new users quickly find and effortless remind how to use it.

        Could be but I don’t think this is a main reason. The point is that apple has made the entire buying experience so much easier.
        You register with iTunes store and looking at numbers almost everyone leaves their credit card numbers to the apple server, and you buy.
        A single source of trust, apple, is required and a single registration, even if you mostly buy using different apps from people and companies you don’t know or trust.

      • Kizedek

        I’m not so sure. I believe you are right about:

        “constantly amazing myself each time I realized something else I could do with it or discover another one-use device I could eliminate. It wasn’t a speedy process, just trial and error. Eventually, I just started assuming there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do on it.”

        However, I don’t see how that can apply to the simple concept of making an online purchase. People have been purchasing things online for 15 years. Either a person does or doesn’t. Some people do their grocery shopping online and get it delivered to the door (we have done Tesco’s or Sainsbury’s in UK for years). Some people do most of their clothes shopping online (we do H&M, etc.). Many, many people shop through Amazon. Many people check out a product in a brick and mortar store, then go and find a deal online. Then there is travel… etc.

        So, if anyone knows *anything* about a “smartphone” or a tablet or an *Amazon* Kindle, they know they can surf the web to some degree.

        But Horace’s data suggests people are not doing that on their Android devices. Online purchases are being made on the desktop (as they have been for 15 years, so we know people are well familiar with the concept of shopping online and are comfortable with it), and purchases are being made with iOS devices.

        So, what does that tell us? Not that Android users just haven’t discovered the possibility yet. No, it tells us they specifically don’t like the experience offered through their mobile browser or apps, and/or they are not comfortable using their device for this purpose. It’s that simple. It sure does sound like iOS-user-rationalization on one hand, but I sure can’t imagine that hundreds of millions of Android device users have yet to discover the browser or store apps on their Android smartphones and Amazon tablets. I would think that iOS users would never hear the end of it if we entertained that kind of belief.

      • Accent_Sweden

        Kizedek, your points are valid. To summarise, my argument was that Android users haven’t fully made the jump to the mobile lifestyle yet and your argument is that they have indeed, they just don’t like what they see and choose not to take part. Perhaps I was being condescending to these users. I agree we should assume they’ve made a rational choice based on the information before them. So I guess we can conclude that, based on the numbers, Android phones aren’t making the shopping experience pleasant enough to continue to shop or the Android demographic is one that just isn’t interested in shopping; they just want free stuff.

        Suddenly, I feel like I’m Papa Bear O’Reilly trying to explain why Romney didn’t win the election. The conclusions just don’t feel write to me. I want a better explanation or at least more supporting data. Of course, my discomfort doesn’t mean one of them isn’t correct and my suggestions are coming from someone who has never used an Android phone himself, I’ve just looked over the shoulders of others using them. Maybe Androids really are that bad for mobile purchases.

      • FalKirk

        “…that tells me, not that Android users just haven’t discovered the possibility yet, but that they specifically don’t like the experience offered through their mobile browser or apps (because it is not easy or fun), and/or they are not comfortable using their device for this purpose.” – Kizedek

        A good theory. Not sure it fully explains the discrepancy between Android market share and engagement, but still, a good theory.

  • KitFR

    Here are the various ways I see to potentially explain the situation:

    - Demographics: People who buy Android are generally less interested in shopping with the device;

    - Devices: Android devices, because of hardware or software limitations, serve less well as a platform for making online purchases (which implies dissatisfied customers galore);

    - Web vs apps: One platform uses a greater percentage of dedicated apps and these do not track equally;

    - Shopping sites: Sites cater more to iOS devices and so either lose Android sales or at least push Android users to shop via PCs;

    - Data bias: The IBM data do not accurately represent the digital marketplace. For example, could the Kindle be driving users overwhelmingly to Amazon at the expense of other sites, and these sales not show up in the data? Or could the sites tracked by IBM have some sort of bias towards sites of more interest to iOS users?

    Just to be clear, I’m not advancing any particular idea, merely thinking about how the problem might be approached.

    • Observer

      I think lace of security is part of the reason. Also the browsing experience is not as pleasurable on Android. But the other reason is I see alot of cheapskates on Android. iPhone 3s Andes now iPhone 4 are free too and someone shouldthake a loor at the iPhone shoppers model breakdown.

    • FalKirk

      Let me add the possibility of “culture” which, I believe, is slightly different from demographics. Google is an advertising company and they made Android in their image. People who buy Android products are trained to expect everything to be free and then have that free content, apps etc. paid for via advertising.

      However, there is extensive evidence indicating that mobile devices make very poor advertising platforms.

      So the paradox may be resolved this way. Android has taught it’s owners to get everything for free and pay for it with advertising – but the advertising model doesn’t work for phones turning them into platform non-entities – Vampires that suck up free apps and content but that return no significant revenues.

      • KitFR

        I think you make a good point as concerns paying for apps and various online content, but I see no reason to think that such behavior would carry over into the physical world. Do Android users buy fewer pairs of shoes, for instance?

      • FalKirk

        They might if they haven’t engaged in or fear the payment mechanism. If you’ve never given Google your credit card number, it’s much harder to make purchases.

        Perhaps Android owners don’t bother to shop on their phones because they know that they can’t consummate the sale without providing credit card information. For some, that may be too tedious. For others, that may be too scary since they do not feel safe in giving that information. For others, they may simply have been trained not to buy using their Android device and the idea of online shopping does not either occur or appeal to them.

      • KitFR

        Others have been suggesting that Android security could well play a role. Here’s what bothers me about that: If a user is sophisticated enough to know Android’s security shortcomings, what is he doing with the device?

      • FalKirk

        “If a user is sophisticated enough to know Android’s security shortcomings…” – KitFR

        I don’t think that one has to be sophisticated to know of Android’s security woes. It works the other way around. Most people are automatically distrustful of putting their credit card information in the hands of online sellers. Companies like Amazon and Apple have worked hard to overcome that high barrier by earning the trust of their customers. Google has not.

      • http://alexandersmith.co/ Benjamin Alexander

        A couple Linux / Android guys I know who recently bought Macbooks were really bothered by the CC# situation.

      • http://alexandersmith.co/ Benjamin Alexander

        Demographics is what it looks like. Culture is how it works.

    • Gots to count Amazon!

      Well, if the data are supposed to address online shopping, and yet fail to count Amazon, they are useless…which I doubt IBM would do

  • http://alexandersmith.co/ Benjamin Alexander

    We still need to see what happens today.

    Cyber Monday looks like a better experiment to me. The holiday weekend is over, and it really is a 2-3 day affair for a lot of us.

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/cyber-monday-sales-could-reach-15-billion-2012-11-26

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      Via Twitter: @tim: #CyberMonday growth is being driven by iPhone so far, says IBM, w/8.7% of traffic. Social networks generated 0.2% of sales: a rounding error

      • http://alexandersmith.co/ Benjamin Alexander

        Ok then. Paradox it is. Not seeing anything credible on the other side.

  • gctwnl

    I can think of a few aspects worth knowing in this respect:
    - demographics: are the iOS users generally more affluent for instance? That would explain higher consumption on the devices
    - the better user experience on iOS in general: think of the full tablet style apps on iOS versus a lot of ‘phone style’ apps on Android tablets. How well does Android actually work in the real world?
    - iOS has a very well stocked store of itself: iTunes App Store. If you leave that (and the Android stores) out, you’re left with general consumption (like Amazon web sites and such). Is the difference still the same? Or are we looking at the App Store effect?

    • Kartik Gupta

      Demographics is an interesting aspect as Android devices are available at a gamut of price-points, even approaching prices of feature phones. It is intriguing to think, like you mentioned, about the purchasing power of iPhone/iPad users and Android users.

    • GuruFlower

      When in a public place, I often observe and tally the number of people using Apple devices vs ‘other’. In all cases, the more affluent the environment the higher the Apple penetration rate, approaching 80% on Amtrak and in certain New York neighborhoods. For me, that is the simplest explanation of the paradox. Apple users have more disposable income.

    • Kizedek

      I don’t really believe in the “affluent” scenario. I am not that affluent. Sure, I might make the occasional strategic purchase of a productivity or business app more than the average Android user. But that’s a couple of bucks.

      As I said above, either you are in the habit of purchasing online, or you are not. Lots of lower income people use their PCs to find online deals and shop through low cost online retailers or Amazon, etc.

      You can’t assume that the iOS users are responsible for higher consumption if you don’t know what Android users who also own PCs are responsible for.

      I think Android device owners are using their PCs to make online purchases. Simple as that. Why? Because Android sucks. We all know that Android fans are responsible for loads of gaming and pizza purchases, so how can we say that they are all poor devils with no disposable income?

      The real reason they can’t imagine that an iOS user is anything other than deluded, fashion-conscious sheep is because they can’t really imagine using Android for fun. They are projecting their disillusionment onto us.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Luis-Alejandro-Masanti/1074106344 Luis Alejandro Masanti

    ” There is something else at play. It might be explained by design considerations or by user experience flaws or integration but something is different.”
    Maybe, it is (Apple’s) caring for the customer. You stil has a “valuable, up to date” iPhone 3GS in your pocket, while Android has so less “value retain” and upgrade adoption.

  • cm3392

    Perhaps many Android phone owners buy and use their phone for a different job than iOS owners: maybe the Android owners are focused on mobile communications, and many of them buy a run-of-the-mill Android phone because there are so few feature phones available. iOS owners seek the full capability and flexibility of a potent computing and communications device that’s carried everywhere.

    • http://twitter.com/chicocan1 Chico can

      I feel like this is true and is probably the only reason Android’s marketshare numbers are so high. That and $0 phones on contract.

  • Pete Austin

    When the data looks wrong, I start by assuming that it is wrong. So what *exactly* is this data measuring? For example Safari’s cookie default stops it saving third-party cookies, unlike Android, so a site measuring sessions might record a lot more for Safari than Android, for identical use. http://daringfireball.net/2012/02/cookies_and_privacy

    • Pete Austin

      No surprise: seems the relative usage is by comparing sessions. So I think this is a simple error of comparing apples with oranges, not anything to do with the psychology of different device users. We could settle this by comparing page views on the differing platforms. Does anyone have that data?

      http://www-01.ibm.com/software/marketing-solutions/benchmark-reports/benchmark-2012-black-friday.pdf

      6. Mobile Device: Android Sessions
      Out of all sessions, the percentage that was from an Android mobile device
      7. Mobile Device: iPhone Sessions
      Out of all sessions, the percentage that was from an iPhone mobile device

      • obarthelemy

        Very enlightening, thanks.

      • jawbroken

        Since there is a session length in minutes that didn’t substantially change year over year (actually increased) despite the proportion of iOS vs Android traffic increasing greatly in favour of iOS, it seems absurd to believe that the session counting is radically different between operating systems.

      • jawbroken

        I guess it’s less clear-cut from the data than I stated but there’s also things like the bounce rate that were constant so it still doesn’t seem that plausible.

    • http://twitter.com/WalterMilliken Walter Milliken

      I’m not certain how they’re defining “session”, but I’d assume it’s by TCP connection, not cookie matching. Cookies would be more of a “unique user” measurement rather than a session measurement. If it’s TCP connections (or IP address pairs excluding ports, since many browsers open multiple connections) being measured, then there shouldn’t be any difference between Android and iOS due to different cookie defaults, and might or might not be depending on whether the two WebKit versions use different numbers of simultaneous sessions.

    • Walt French

      This is a good notion. But please note that the user base estimates are worse than the IBM activity measures, which are not inconsistent with other usage samples. If you don’t like the assumption of lower Android usage, then your next stat to attack is the belief that there are a lot of Android devices being used.

  • http://davidhdennis.com/ David H Dennis

    I have always been an iPhone user, but a lot of my friends use Android. I have one friend who’s a big-time Android enthusiast, but the rest of my friends are not particularly engaged in technology.

    There are two things I’ve noticed about the marketplace for Android phones.

    First, there are a lot of cheap, badly designed Android phones out there. Most of us, with our obsession with the latest and greatest, don’t realize how bad mainstream stuff is.

    Recently, my girlfriend, who is definitely not technology oriented, decided she wanted an Android phone, and it had to be on the prepaid StraightTalk service, which works well for her. I took one look at the available phones and recoiled in horror – they were running Android 2.3, which is “web centuries” out of date. But come Black Friday, I could not argue against an Android phone for $39.98 from Walmart and a $45 monthly plan price.

    I’m sure the “LG Optimus Logic” (how do they come up with these names, anyway?) is pretty representative of a very large percentage of Android’s worldwide market share. The display is small and fuzzy, and it’s tough to read text at anything under Fisher-Price size. The user interface is clunky. Just for fun, I tried browsing a few web sites, and it did function, but I can’t see anyone trying to do anything more complex than quick information lookups with it. There is a reason why Wikipedia has a phone version with Fisher-Price text sizes for Android!

    She’s happy with the device, I think because the user interface of her old feature phone was, if anything, even worse. But I think anyone who wanted to use it like an iPhone would be appalled by its sheer awfulness.

    Second, I’ve noticed something rather surprising. Even with up to date Android devices such as the Galaxy S III and Nexus 7, text is significantly harder to read on the devices. The fonts used on modern iPhones and iPads are significantly easier to read, to the point that my Nexus 7 has mainly sat on the table while my iPad 3 is used all the time. The overall handling of text sizing (for example when you double tap on a text block) is much worse, and the available fonts are not nearly as attractive.

    So for anything text-heavy Apple’s devices are significantly better. And with most Android devices sold by volume being the cheapies, it’s no wonder more people choose Apple devices than Android devices to shop.

    However, there is one more thing … it’s very interesting that Amazon and Barnes & Noble managed to flood the market with cheap Kindle Fires and Nooks, and yet vanishingly small numbers of people are actually using them to buy. To me, this indicates that people may be irritated with the in your face “buy, buy!” commerce orientation of the devices. I know when I got my Nexus 7, there was a screen with loud banners and widgets trying to get me to buy stuff, and my primary reaction was irritation.

    Apple, of course, relies on device sales to make its money, and so there is no sales pressure present anywhere in the device. You can use the iTunes store and the App Store, but they are just icons on the screen; they are not given any particular prominence, and you are free to ignore them if you want.

    That seems like a strange advantage when it comes to getting people to buy stuff with the device, but my working theory is that the hard sell on many of these devices causes them to be dumped in drawers and never looked at again, while Apple’s soft sell makes people more engaged and happy with their purchase.

    • Adonis

      I would have to agree with this Response. The reason there is a disparity in that Android users are not browsing the web is because they simply cant (effectively). The majority of Android users are running 2.0.3 which is a horrible internet experience. So though, yes, it is true that Android Popularity surged and has gone over the iOS, the main reason for this is simply just because it was an alternative “smartphone” platform which is much much cheaper but not necessarily better. I consider these majority of Android users who bought cheaper phones people who just wanted a smartphone to follow the trend and “say” they have a smartphone when in reality their phones aren’t much better than basic cell phones.

      • http://search.websonar.com:8080/ Duane Bemister

        It will be very interesting to see how many of these first time smartphone users switch to an iPhone when their contracts expire.

      • mhikl

        Are you sure about 2.0.3 Adonis? I found the following on Stinkipedia.
        2.3.3-2.3.7 Gingerbread Feb 2011 10 53.9%
        2.3-2.3.2 Gingerbread Dec 2010 9 0.3%
        2.2 Froyo May 2010 8 12.0%
        2.0-2.1 Eclair Oct 2009 7 3.1%

      • oases

        I think he meant 2.3

    • FalKirk

      “… it’s very interesting that Amazon and Barnes & Noble managed to flood the market with cheap Kindle Fires and Nooks, and yet vanishingly small numbers of people are actually using them to buy.” – David H Dennis

      This is an aside to the issue at hand, but it is a fascinating aside. I believe that the “freemium” business model is failing and will fail. Both the Nexus 7 and The Amazon Kindle Fire sell their wares at or below cost and hope to recoup their revenues by selling content and advertising. But the “give away the razors and sell the blades” model they are employing relies on selling a premium blade. For example, printer makers and game consoles virtually give away their hardware and make it up from the exclusive – and high margin – sale of ink and gaming cartridges. There is nothing premium about the content or the advertising that the Nexus or the Fire are selling. Therefore the model fails.

      If the numbers are accurate, then devices such as the Nook, Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 are being given away and they are generating minuscule content. The available numbers for advertising are horribly disappointing too. And since content sales and advertising consumption are everything to these subsidized devices, their business model is actually backfiring – causing their owners to expend money and effort to create tablets that generate nearly zero or possibly even a negative return.

      • http://davidhdennis.com/ David H Dennis

        Whenever you use your tablet, you are consuming or creating content – but unfortunately for the sellers of stuff, most of the content is free: your email and your web browsing do not deliver one penny to the tablet’s maker.

        So the tablet seems like a very poor choice for the razor/blade model, no? You get the tablet, you can do what you want with it, and probably 70-99% of what you do on it doesn’t provide any revenues to its maker. Sounds like a giant leap of faith to me on the part of Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

        And to make matters worse, if you want you can root the device and download Android versions of the competing stores. (Google Play, Nook, Kindle).

        As the bitter frosting on the cake, Apple makes a microscopic profit on its revenue share of 70/30 for the content producer. Amazon’s deal isn’t as good for authors, which is why I always suggest people buy books from the iBookStore if the price is reasonable. But I don’t remember it being much more, so Amazon is really selling a product that has very poor profit prospects going forward.

        Put this all together and it looks like a pretty poor picture for Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I’d like to see B&N bookstores survive, since I enjoy shopping for paper books on occasion, and I’m sure Kindle will survive since it’s fantastic for hard to find books. But it seems like an awfully thin reed to base an expensive to design and engineer tablet on.

        D

      • FalKirk

        “…Apple makes a microscopic profit on its revenue share of 70/30 for the content producer…” – David H Dennis

        Exactly. How can Google or Amazon hope to live off the profits from the sale of content and advertising when Apple can also sell the very self-same content and advertising? Amazon and Google have no pricing advantage over Apple – no way to charge more for their product that Apple does – and Apple can afford to keep their content and ad rates low since Apple makes their money on hardware sales.

      • Tatil_S

        Amazon could have lower costs, even if its revenue is the same for the same content. I have no idea whether that is actually the case, but it is at least plausible.

      • http://www.facebook.com/les.morton.jr Les Morton
      • FalKirk

        Les, I enjoyed reading those articles too. Good links and a good read.

      • Davel

        Les

        Great links thanks

        Interesting that the second link doesn’t work on my iPad.

      • Jamie

        Hit the Reader button and enjoy. Broken theme :/

      • Gordon Shephard

        David, regarding revenue to the tablet maker.

        Horace’s insight (based on his analysis of the numbers) is that iOS ecosystem devices seem to be generating more revenue, and, per device, a great deal more revenue. A lot of the “leap of faith” is dependent on how consumer behavior changes. In the iOS world, based on the last two-years of trending, consumers have been generating a lot of revenue on the iOS platform. What is curious, is that we aren’t seeing the same engagement on the Android Platform.

        I don’t think the reason is so much demographic, as it is *use intent* of the device purchaser. The consumer who purchases an iPhone is, on average, demonstrating significantly different intent than an average cell-phone user in the United States who walks into a carrier and just asks for whatever the next best deal is (and, the carrier will direct them to an Android, which yield higher commissions for the sales staff)

        Another interesting, and perhaps *critical* component to investigate, is what percentage of android active users have their credit cards online, versus the iOS ecosystem users. This might also be another element which signals “use intent” – even if they don’t use the built in purchasing systems in App Store/iBook Store, they may have already made it clear that they are digital consumers, and are comfortable purchasing online.

      • ThEGr33k

        The problem with this engagement thing is this; What came first? The good app or the money? App devs often in my experience make a top class iOS app (I assume that is the platform they use) and do well off of it then make a second rate pile of crap app for Android and it doesn’t sell well. Interesting then that they complain that Android users aren’t willing to pay for the pile of crap app. You will notice that most of the apps in Android that do well are Android specific, so the Devs need to do a good job of they go under! Most of the time due to poor app dev (facebook is top example) I’ll just use the web browser’ which leads onto;

        The Browser; I have been on a lot of sites that see that my browser uses mobile webkit and automatically assume im using an idevice, so if that happens to me quite often I have to assume its a general trend for all mobile webkit users, in which case all this whole trending is totally off. How can they draw any conclusions when the data is obviously inaccurate!?

      • Quicksingle

        Are you really saying all these people who buy Kindles aren`t buying content from Amazon ?

      • FalKirk

        “Are you really saying all these people who buy Kindles aren`t buying content from Amazon ?” – Quicksingle

        I’m not saying it, the numbers are saying it.

        Amazon refuses to release numbers and they took a net loss last quarter.

        Look at the IBM data and you’ll clearly see that Kindles, Nooks and Nexus products are dramatically underrepresented in the shopping statistics.

        Are you really saying that all these people who buy Kindles ARE buying content from Amazon? Where’s your proof?

      • http://www.tumblr.com/blog/his-divine-shadow His Shadow

        Totally off topic…

        Where’s your proof?

        I don’t know why this annoys me so much, but “proof” is for mathematics and alcohol. “Evidence” is what Quicksingle needs to provide.

        He’s still got nothing, of course….

      • FalKirk

        “‘proof’ is for mathematics and alcohol.” – His Shadow

        As an attorney, I should know better. To be fair, attorneys use (or misuse) the word “proof” all the time.

        I’ll try to use the word “evidence” in the future.

      • http://www.tumblr.com/blog/his-divine-shadow His Shadow

        I believe it derives from the the requirement to, as well as the saying “prove your claims” in court or otherwise, or “prove it”. This has resulted in “proof” becoming a tense of “prove”.

        Claims are proved by providing evidence.

        I’ll try to use the word “evidence” in the future.

        I’m pretty sure I’m fighting the inevitable evolution of the vernacular in this case, but I welcome you as an ally in my glorious cause! :)

      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

        I suspect the data for Nook and Kindle is skewed because they are designed to shop on their respective web sites and the data is being gathered for a large sample of retailers (probably excluding B&N and Amazon.) But that brings up another question: Would users of a tablet “hire” that tablet to shop at one store only and be happy to do so? If so will we see a large number of tablets in every household attached to a single retailer? Why not an H&M tablet and a Burberry’s tablet and a Gucci tablet?

      • http://alexandersmith.co/ Benjamin Alexander

        What if Walmart sold one?

        They have a famously efficient supply chain, good profits, an iconic brand and their super centers are located very strategically, serving lots of customers without much competition, and they have billions and billions of dollars.

        http://www.ifoapplestore.com/2012/04/15/new-apple-displays-appear-inside-walmart/

      • http://twitter.com/fivetonsflax fivetonsflax

        My intuition is that people will only hire a single-retailer device if they trust that retailer to serve a wide variety of needs at competitive prices. So yes, an Amazon tablet, and yes, a Wal*Mart tablet, but even someone who wears only Burberry clothing can’t justify a Burberry tablet.

      • http://profiles.google.com/simon.hibbs Simon Hibbs

        The fremium model has a much bigger flaw. The big selling point of these devices is that they are cheap. Cheap devices are most attractive to low income customers, who are low spenders, and the goods they do buy tends to carry the lowest profit margins. Higher income customers, that buy the most profitable goods, are the ones who are also willing to pay for premium devices and software.

        So with the Kindle Fire Amazon are spending massive subsidies to target the least profitable market segment.

        Arguably the e-ink Kindles offer a premium experience due to their high readability and long battery life. Here a subsidised business model may make sense. But I think the current business model for the Fire is an expensive mistake.

      • http://alexandersmith.co/ Benjamin Alexander
    • Savant

      I have a very different experience to report than yours. I prefer to do the website/blog reading on my Android phone rather than my iPad.

      The main reason being text reflow support in Android, which fits the text to the width of the device’s screen no matter how you alter the font (thus leaving me to only scroll vertically as compared to the crazy horizontal AND vertical scrolling on the iOS device which slows me down).

      Also, I prefer to reply to my emails on the android because the swype keyboard is so much faster than the tap-tap of the iOS.

      But outside the browser and the emailing, the iOS is my preference if I am using Kindle to read a book or watch a movie on Netflix or using a specific app.

      • Fix the scrolling

        I agree with your complaint about the simultaneous horizontal and vertical scrolling. They need to fix that…although I use the READER function when it is available, which is an elegant solution.

    • Quicksingle

      You are making this up about the Galaxy S3. On the weekend I watched friends with Galaxy and the iphone5 side by side. The Galaxy S3 was agreed by all present to be superior. Low end Android phones with old software are poor and hopeless for web use. There are lots of them too. I know you don`t like this and won`t believe it but the top end Android phones running JB are now the bench mark.

      • http://twitter.com/jazzyalex Alexander Malakhov

        How Galaxy S3 can be superior to iphone 4/4S or 5 in design terms? It may have bigger/brighter screen and more flexible/functional OS. But in design terms?!

        Cheap overall look, terrible plastic volume button .. Cmon

      • http://davidhdennis.com/ David H Dennis

        No, I’m giving my personal opinion, and I give a reason for it. That reason may be laughable for you. If you use your device mainly for typing text messages, watching movies and viewing photos, you’re going to have an entirely different opinion from me, and your viewpoint will be equally valid.

        People use devices for an infinity of different reasons and use cases. There are probably some cases where Galaxy is better. In my life, for what I do – i.e. reading text-heavy web sites like this one – iPhone is superior. Some people might prefer the larger Galaxy screen for movie and picture viewing.

        In any rate, we are a pretty tiny sample, are we not? The real merits of the devices require voices from a universe of millions … you would need a deep dive in a sample of at least a few thousand to get statistically significant results.

        I agree that it would be very useful to have data by device type or at least operating system version to determine how engagement varies by those parameters.

        But in the mean time the data we’re looking at is definitely statistically significant, and it shows the average iPhone user uses data features of their phone significantly more than the average Android user.

        D

    • mahadragon

      I agree. Apple pays more attention to subtle things like readability of text, scrolling, and the overall design of the interface. An Android device, if you scroll downward, will continue to scroll down the screen uncontrollably. In iOS, the scroll is much more controlled. This annoys me so much with my Samsung Galaxy phone I don’t use it as much compared to my iPod Touch.

    • acturbo

      very good points

  • ckeledjian

    I support the theory that the reason is that whereas all iphones are high end devices with good and fast browsing experienced, a huge percentage of Android devices are low end, running in cheap hardware and maybe with low speed connections. However, I have witnessed that there might be usability issues. I own a Windows Phone and I am puzzled that my tech savvy coworkers don’t use their Android phones so much as a smartphone, they don’t use it to search movie showtimes, restaurants, or general surround discovery. But my non tech savvy friends that have Windows Phones use these features and they discovered themselves, even using voice recognition. And I do find Android phones less engaging and passive.

  • Arun

    Engage with an Android devise as you please. But, when it comes to the question of paying thru a credit card or doing a banking transaction, I won’t engage with an Android device but rather go with an Apple iPhone or iPad. The reason is simple: secure ecosystem.

    • r.d

      IOS Apps is as secure as much as a browser bookmark.
      after all most are just web portals wrapped in UIWebView.
      If security was issue than Google would do like twitter and
      verify their apps. but Google really wants Android users
      to search and instead of direct buy.

      • http://twitter.com/samanjj Saman Jebeli-Javan

        A journalist friend of mine has found 174 cases of android malware on the net. 0 in the wild for RIM and iOS.

      • Who Needs Facts?

        Don’t confuse us argument with statistics please.

      • http://twitter.com/samanjj Saman Jebeli-Javan

        A journalist friend of mine has found 174 cases of android malware on the net. 0 in the wild for RIM and iOS.

  • beidaren

    Do we really know how many Android devices are out there? While Apple publishes iOS devices sales data every quarter in SEC filings, Android makers do not publish sales data other than “activation” numbers. I am starting to think the whole Andriod market shares are a hoax and SEC needs to investigate!

  • Matt N

    As an early adopter of Android, allow me to share this. I had an old HTC Titan that I experimented in loading Android Doughnut. As part of my install, reinstall, reinstall, ad infinitium, I accessed Amazon Kindle services.

    Later on, once I decided I liked Android enough to purchase a Dell Streak, I had a need to manage my device on the Amazon site. I discovered I had 9 android devices under my account. From that point on, I have always discounted reports of Android’s market share. After all, it appears they talk about new device activation and I had 10 at one time. Or not!

    • TeeJay2000

      Very interesting Matt. Reminds of the Facebook stats story – how many real users?

    • http://www.noisetech-software.com/Home.html Steven Noyes

      Take this for what it is worth. While at WWDC 1.5 years ago, I was standing in line (lots of lines at WWDC and the keynote one was several hours long) with an engineer that had just quit Google after 4 years to do his own thing for awhile. He had also had a stint at Apple for 6 years prior to Google. His last position at Google was in the Android server side activation team so I seem to trust what he was telling me but who knows. BTW: There are always many Google engineers at WWDC and I am sure Apple engineers are well represented at Google I/O.

      Basically (as it was recounted to me), at Google server queries to the database are actually tracked closely relating to costs, they [Google] have quantified the cost of database queries and they put forth great effort at minimizing the complexity of queries (it was a game to see who could come-up with the cheapest database logic). The more complex the query, the greater the cost. This emphasis on database efficiency makes sense to me given Google is all about searching databases. He implied that each Android phone had two unique identifiers associated with it on each reset of the device (a software upgrade constituted a reset). One of the IDs was unique to the device (assigned at manufacture) and never changed for the life of the device. The other was unique to the user’s Google account and could/would change on every device reset (this was used for issue tracking/diagnostics/traffic/….). To keep the query fast and simple for counting “Activations” the group did the simplest logic they could think of:

      Increment the Activation when the unique device ID associated with the user’s Google account was different than the previous reset.

      This made for a very fast query and avoided searching the entire unique device log to see if it had already been activated. Since this was done in the days of the G1 (HTC Dream) the error on this specific method this was very very small (a small fraction of a %). A user could flash ROMS and reset the device and it would not get recounted. NOTE: This is consistent to Google’s official stance that a software upgrade does not get counted multiple times on activations.

      As time went on, however, and the number of devices available increased, the counting did not account for old devices being activated under new/different users and this led to many discussions on how to handle this. To change the counting to the more complex device query of looking through the entire device database would cause a drop (at this time 18 month back) in activation numbers of between 30-40% resulting in a political nightmare.

      And that is where the story ends. I have no idea if what was recounted was accurate but the source was pretty darn close to a “primary” source. I have no idea if Google updated the query as hand-me-down devices became a greater total.

      • oases

        If Google is lying about Android activations then Google shareholders might potentially be able to sue for the company for giving out false information that exaggerates current success and future prospects.

      • http://www.noisetech-software.com/Home.html Steven Noyes

        I don’t know if it is about lying. Prior to this point in time, Google simply indicated that a reset or software upgrade did not count as an “activation”. This is 100% consistent with what I was told. An activation was not a new unit, it was simple a new unit for a given user.

        About 11 months ago, Rubin indicated a device was only counted once but this does not mean “Activation” alway meant the same thing. Likewise, Google may have updated the methods (think about it, though, if you have 500,000,000 or so units in a list and you have to search 1,000,000+ per day you are talking about some serious query loads even with indexes).

        I will still say, however, that “Activation” is a bit of a fuzzy term and we are not 100% sure what it really means.

      • Gordon Shephard

        A list of 500,000,000 unit Device IDs is trivially searchable in O(1) with any number of hash algorithms. It’s not even a particularly large number, so not only is it O(1), it’s all in memory. You could reasonably expect to query such a database on a single node 100,000 times/second. I’m not suggesting that the your original information was incorrect, or even misleading, but it was certainly not related to the difficultly of querying a 500 million item list millions of times per day (or, for that matter, per minute).

      • David Leppik

        Indeed one can build a hash, bitmap or other data structure to read activations extremely quickly– if you’re custom building an index specifically to track that particular piece of data.

        But (and this was what the Google engineer was hinting at) constructing that index requires queries against multiple tables, if you don’t take shortcuts. They aren’t just checking to validate a device ID, they’re probably trying to access user data every time a validated device hits their website. Which means being accurate is as important as being fast (i.e. they may need to block on writes to certain tables.)

        Which is to say, they aren’t interested in writing and maintaining a special table to store that particular piece of trivia, they are optimizing a query against a database that wasn’t optimized for that query.

        Plus this is Google, and they like to do things so you get a complete web page in sub-100ms from anywhere in the world. Which means geographic distribution. And the overhead of finding a machine with the right user’s most recent data. (Not to mention the overhead of storing every piece of data on at least 3 machines, in case 2 of them break.)

      • Matt N

        Thank you for the detailed feedback. I was interested in what, if any, repercussions to repeated ROM flashes could occur. Apparently the Kindle App could not handle it. Again, my thanks.

    • http://www.facebook.com/tkejlboom John Lin

      Your Amazon account is NOT what they are talking about when they talk about “activation”. That’s a reference to carrier activations. Your mismanagement of your personal Amazon account is irrelevant.

      • Matt N

        John, I am aware of that. My concern was dealt with in the first response, which details how Google deals with unique and different ROM flashes on a single device. The only observable condition from my repeated ROM flashes were found in the Kindle app.
        Your post was useless to everyone, even stupid me.

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  • Reinhard Haberfellner

    I would assume that meanwhile Android phones are the fist step of late adopters to try out a smartphone experience; late adopters want to have something not too expensive and don’t really fancy shopping in general and definitely not via mobile or tablet .

  • Jason DiMarco

    Excellent graphs but the mobile numbers look off. Per the report; “The iPad generated more traffic than any other tablet or smart phone, reaching nearly 10 percent of online shopping. This was followed by iPhone at 8.7 percent and Android 5.5 percent.” yet your graphs show the iPhone at more than double than Android

    • http://twitter.com/asymco Horace Dediu

      iPhone is at 8.71% and Android phones are at 4.24%. The difference 1.29% is Android tablets.

    • studuncan

      Jason, you (like me) assumed that Android traffic was phones, but it was actually phones + tablets.

      Shows that there’s about 0% growth YOY for traffic from Android phones, which is interesting in its own right, given the (reported) tremendous growth in Android phones.

  • Ben

    I think there are many more Android users who simply use their devices like a feature phone as opposed to a smart phone. A new Android phone is often free with contract, whereas a new iPhone is not, unless you want an older generation iteration. It could be that customers choose a free smart phone over a free feature phone because of the perceived improvement in utility, but then go on to use the smart phone much like a feature phone: texting, calling and perhaps checking the weather. Those users may not be inclined to use the more advanced features of the phone, at least not initially.

  • http://twitter.com/noel_online Noel

    I wonder if anyone has taken the time to study the demographics of iPhone users vs. Android users. It would also be really useful to know just WHAT were the items being purchased.

    It could be that iPhone users are, but their very nature, more affluent (given the relative costs of their devices) and more apt to impulsively purchase the next “must-have” item, whatever that is. There certainly is that mindset among Apple fans, as witnessed by the traction that Samsung has gotten with its ads for the Galaxy III.

    Look around the room at your next meeting. It could be that the android folks are checking emails while the iPhone users are checking out their online shopping carts.

    • http://twitter.com/WalterMilliken Walter Milliken

      I believe some of the marketing studies that were published a while back did break out demographic segments for iOS and Android, though I don’t recall any recent ones. And yes, there was a bias in the iOS user base to higher incomes, as I recall, But I’m not sure it would account for the differences, since it wasn’t a simple split of the user base, the demographics did overlap a fair amount.

      What would be more interesting, I think, would be to see how the usage and demographics of *only* high end Android phones (e.g. Galaxy S III) compare to the iPhone, rather than mixing together both the low and high-end Android phones together into the same bucket. I think that would tell us a lot more about this topic.

  • Walt French

    I wonder whether the relative share of the Android tablets — shopping level vs numbers in users’ hands — could shed some light on this.

    My impression is that there is indeed a fair number of “other” Android tablets, virtually ALL at the low price point — many are virtually junk. If they facilitate 2.5X the number of shopping sessions vs the Galaxy Tab, while being no more than 2.5X as prevalent in users’ hands, then the “Android cheapskate” theory is dubious. Could there be enough higher-quality/higher-price Sony, Acer or other tablets out there to offset the low-cost offerings?

    The Nook and Kindle numbers are interesting in that many of their shopping sessions would be with B&N and Amazon, respectively. Does IBM sample those two sellers equally effectively as others? I don’t know about current Nooks — I’ve only spent a couple of minutes in a store displaying them — but my impression is that most of them present a VERY limited/slow browsing experience. Here, the shopping numbers seem disproportionately LARGE against an ease-of-use type theory (and against the notion that many early Nook sales were to people who immediately rooted them to Android for a cheap hobbyist experience and were essentially UN-interested in commerce).

    More questions, or likely refutation of theories, than answers, I’m afraid. Some cross-reference to estimated devices-in-use would be interesting.

  • Ck

    Could the data be skewed if Android users are using their browsers versus iPhone users using apps to shop? Everything I know about http tells me this doesn’t make a difference but I’m reaching for some possible explanation.

    • Martin

      That’s part of my theory as well. A notable difference between the platforms is the number of retail apps for iOS and the depth of those apps. In many cases, I prefer shopping in my iOS apps vs the browser, even on my laptop. The issue isn’t the bandwidth, but the user experience within the app. Apps provide easier local storage, persistence, and a different set of controls than the web experience – mainly because the web experience needs to be backward compatible with quite old browsers whereas the apps can be much more modern and fluid.

    • http://twitter.com/WalterMilliken Walter Milliken

      I think most of the apps still talk some form of HTTP to the servers, because that’s easy to code for, but they keep most of the UI rendering and permanent image assets locally. However, I can’t see this as biasing things *toward* iOS, since it would suggest that the normal web sessions on Android would then involve more data than iOS app+HTTP, and would be *more* likely to be recorded than iOS app HTTP (which might be on oddball ports, for example).

      So while it’s a valid question, it seems like it would cause iOS traffic to be *under*reported, not over.

  • http://twitter.com/symesc Calvin Symes

    I have a friend who is moving away from the iPhone to a Samsung Galaxy. I asked him what job he was hiring the Galaxy to do that the iPhone couldn’t. His answer: playing pirated movies and TV shows is much easier on Android than iOS. He has a job where he works remotely in the oil patch for a couple weeks at a time, away from traditional TV signals and bandwidth. There are a lot of hours to kill out there, so he loads up content at home before heading out to work.

    I’m not sure this is relevant to the conversation here, Horace, but upon reading your post this morning my mind went to that story. I’m now actively wondering if the “freedom” cited by Android users, mainly in reference to configuration of the OS, also includes freedom from a content perspective?

    And if there’s an attitudinal difference among Android users towards buying content, perhaps there’s an attitudinal difference towards buying material goods too.

    • http://twitter.com/handleym99 Maynard Handley

      This strikes me as unlikely. I would imagine that the same people who want to play pirated movies/TV as stored content are well aware of Handbrake and its equivalents (which can convert pretty much anything into an h264 movie).

      A better argument COULD be made that a tablet with flash on it is the viewing device of choice if you watch a lot of streaming content. While YouTube has converted to h264, my understanding is that most of your non-US TV streaming sites (the ones that carry everything as opposed to the limited selection of something like hulu or cbs.com) are still flash based.

      However I’ve rarely seen this streaming TV argument used, even in the most ferocious “Apple sux, Android roolz” wars, which makes me suspect it’s just not a factor — maybe flash on Android is just so awful that watching large amounts of streaming TV is not practical?

      • obarthelemy

        They are also presumably well aware that converting a whole bunch of media is a pain: time consuming, buggy, quality degrades…

    • studuncan

      Seriously?

      If he just adds mp4 to the movie title in a torrent search, he’s good to go.

      • obarthelemy

        but then what does he do with the files ? With Android, you can take a bunch of SD cards, even Flash drives or powered USB hard disks, and play them right off via an $2 OTG cable. Or use dlna do play them wirelessly.

      • baanzu

        He changes .mp4 file suffix to .m4v, drags it into iTunes and syncs. No big deal. And no more geeky a process than yours…
        Course it would be better if all the content was available on iTunes – much easier. And legal.

      • obarthelemy

        You do realize using iTunes requires being connected to the Internet, which an oil field out in the boonies (with not even a TV signal ) surely is not ?

      • jawbroken

        iTunes definitely does not need an internet connection to synch files to a device. This is getting rather irrelevant to this blog post, though.

      • baanzu

        You do realize the original poster said: “There are a lot of hours to kill out there, so he loads up content at home before heading out to work.”

        Nothing about connecting to the net in the boonies so he preloads at home – iTunes/Torrents/Whatever

      • Brenden

        We’re getting off topic, but you can put movie files on an SD card in a directory titled “DCIM” and then synch them to the iPad directly with a card reader and USB adapter, no computer or iTunes required. I do it all the time.

    • xynta_man

      I have the same experience with a few acquaintance, who view Android’s main advantage as an easier ability to pirate content:

      - having cheap removable storage (buy a few cheap SD cards and pack them with movies/music);
      - supporting application sideloading out of the box (download a cracked “.apk” file and install it without any hassle);
      - having an essentially non-controlled app market with software that makes consuming pirated content easier: video player apps that support formats that are popular among pirated content, torrent clients (to download stuff right onto the device), etc.

  • Jimmy Johnston

    I wonder if the answer to this can’t be found by looking at how phones are marketed to users?

    Apple devices seem to be marketed as devices that do something. Commercials show the device in use, doing stuff like editing a photo or drawing a picture. People who respond to this marketing do so because they too want to do these things too.

    Android devices, on the other hand, seem to be marketed around other factors – you almost never see the device being used to solve some need. Instead, they seem to be marketed around emotional factors. Droid is tough. Galaxy is for folks who think Apple fans are iSheep.

    So, Apple users have higher engagement rates because these are the users that Apple has sought to market to. Since Apple has locked up the “active user” market, Android vendors are forced to market to other groups, such as those that care about “Open”, want to be different, macho, etc.

    • http://bioselement.com/ William Chambers

      Are you kidding me? Really? Have fun Sheep.

    • http://twitter.com/samanjj Saman Jebeli-Javan

      On the flip side galaxy note is a unique proposition and the ads show it’s problem solving capability. This would be considered high end android.

  • stefn

    Why the delta? Less usable hardware? Over 4,000 models of Android devices exist. How many are usable, much less user friendly? Less usable software? Probably over 90 percent of Android users are on old, mostly very old OS versions. Again, how usable? Now add poor hardware to outdated software. There you go.

  • RichLo

    At this point most consumers know the difference between iOS and Android and either understand or has a friend/family member that understands how both ecosystems work. There are also users that have had the time to experience both ecosystems.
    Time and habits have evolved that Android users expect apps to be free and if polled would possibly show very little purchases in the PlayStore compared to an average iPhone user and their AppStore purchases.

    Compared side by side the most recent release of Angry Birds Star Wars was only available as a purchase for $.99 to iPhone users but offered free on Android based phones with ad’s. It would be safe to assume that people that choose iOS understand the pay to play nature of Apple’s environment and Android users understand the freemium ad model of PlayStore.

    This behavior could possibly shine some light into the shopping habits for black Friday between iPhone and Android based devices.
    Whether this is due to demographics and income levels is a seperate question.

    • obarthelemy

      I’m not so sure people are aware of respective ecosystem costs. There has been no ad campaign about it, no article in the press/online… I’ive never had a user tell me that iOS apps are more expensive…

  • Adrian Meli

    Horace, thanks for the interesting data. Do you have any good demographic information on the respective user bases? Thanks again!

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  • http://twitter.com/comment_account comment account

    Android users shop on fixed computers.

    • mhikl

      c a, “fixed computers”. Good one. :)

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      That’s what the data implies. The question is why.

  • cooldoods

    I think Android owners are just much more discerning shoppers than iOS owners.

    • JohnbMtl

      I think you missed the point.

      They are talking about traffic not purchases.

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  • jbelkin

    It’s a very simple explanation. Android users are 95% low end users who are handed a free phone and use it to text or make calls – no complicated explanation about how google cannot tell an android phone from a fisher price walkie talkie – really? Google – the company that can tell what hemorroid cream you use but cannot tell u switched phones? Sure, there are the vocal 5% Internet savvy user who hate apple but you only number a small % – hence the low Internet usage. It’s very simple. Who is not on the Internet now in the us? U either cannot afford it or you don’t want it – hello, android users. This is why google does call it’s phone OS not as as sold but activated – they are telling the truth, it’s not sold but merely turned on at the factory and assigned a Sid. Most android users recognize it for what it is – a free iOS copy that can use while they save for an iPhone ( about 45% of android users next phone is an iPhone , iPhone to android -3%)- itis not complicated.

  • Savant

    I think it is rather easy to explain if you correlate it with the gender breakdown of iOS and Android devices.

    Correlate it with the stats on which gender does the larger share of shopping (online or otherwise) and you will have your explanation.

    • FalKirk

      Interesting and novel (at least to me) theory. Woman do seem to gravitate to iOS and men seem to gravitate to Android. But I don’t think the gender differences would nearly account for the discrepancies we’re seeing.

    • http://twitter.com/WalterMilliken Walter Milliken

      The only source for the gender difference I could easily find was a year-old, unscientific survey at http://blog.hunch.com/?p=51781, which says Android is 10% weighted to men (I assume that means 55/45 male/female) and iOS weighted 18% toward women (I assume 41/59 male/female). That doesn’t seem like enough gender difference to drive a 2:1 or 3:1 traffic difference, even if men never shopped online and all the female users did during the sample interval.

      My key takeaway from Horace’s analysis is that we need more granular demographic and device data to figure out what’s really going on. Otherwise we’re just guessing based on anecdotal evidence and personal biases. (My own guess, for the record, echoes some other posters here and elsewhere — I suspect it’s carrier stores pushing cheap Android phones onto former feature phone users to force them onto mandatory data plans.)

      • savant

        An 18% weighting could easily support a 2:1 ratio, since the two ratios are additive (one reinforces the other). We are not talking about general traffic, but specifically online shopping.

        Let me elaborate,

        The more crucial data is : what percentage of shopping is done by women (I would venture at least 70% on a hunch ;-) ). Since the two numbers are additive, any platform that is weighted towards women would generate exponentially more traffic for online shopping. Because even without any weighting, the online shopping traffic still would be 2:1 in favor of the iOS.

      • http://twitter.com/WalterMilliken Walter Milliken

        Hmmm.. Disqus ate my previous reply somehow, it seems.

        I can’t figure out how you can get close to a 2:1 ratio without really distorting the likely demographics. I also can see where any exponential behavior could come in, though a hyperbolic function is possible in the ratio between two inversely related variables (like the male/female ratio for a given platform). I don’t think the numbers are that imbalanced to make that matter much, though.

        Example: assume the absurd case that 0% of men shop online, and 100% of women do (leading to a cute bogus headline: “Women Shop Infinitely More than Men”). Assume Android users are 40% women, iOS are 66% women (probably more imbalanced than the actual numbers assuming the dubious survey is somewhere near correct). If there were 100 iOS users and 100 Android users (which gives iOS a better user base share than any recent survey), there would be 40 Android shoppers and 66 iOS shoppers, which is only a 1.65:1 ratio. And my assumptions heavily favor iOS, so the actual ratio should be substantially lower.

        And it’s hard to see how to reach Horace’s 3:1 number that way without really absurd demographic assumptions.

      • savant

        Stats say so many stories – I am not looking at what % of iOS/Android users are women, but rather what % of women prefer iOS (these are two different things and apply differently to our discussion here). The first one is not speak that directly to me, it’s the second one that drives my analysis.

        So for example, with your numbers, if 100% shopping traffic is driven by women, and 80% women prefer iOS (over Android), then the iOS pie is going to be 80%, which would be 80:20 or 4:1.

        BTW, love the ” shop infinitely more than men…” geek-speak. It is cute.

      • http://twitter.com/WalterMilliken Walter Milliken

        So to get there, you have to assume all women shop online, no men do, and 80% of women smartphone users are on iOS. I don’t think those assumptions are very realistic, nor do they seem to match what little data we have.

        The other problem with the “gender gap” theory is that it doesn’t explain the frequently-noted web-browsing dominance of iOS for ordinary web traffic, unless you assume that men never use the web in general.

      • obarthelemy

        Let’s try it.

        Assumptions (very sketchy ones, this is just a very crude approximation)
        - The US are 33% iOS, 50% Android
        - Android is 40% women, iOS is 60% women
        - Women do 70% of the sales shopping.

        Relative purchasing potential of the Android market:
        50% * 40% * 70% + 50% * 60% * 30% = 14 + 9 = 23

        Relative purchasing potential of the iOS market:
        33% * 60% *70% + 33% * 40% * 30% = 14 + 4 = 18

        Android should slightly out-spend iOS.

        So either the assumptions about gender split and/or sale shopping split are wrong (or the calculations… the installed base assumption is fairly certain), or there is something else at play.

      • obarthelemy

        Or, as someone unveiled further down in the discussion, IBM’s Analytics are just wrong to the point of being meaningless.

  • Alfiejr

    there is no mystery here, HD.

    simply, cheap Android “smartphones” are replacing the world’s cheap Symbian “featurephones.” but most of those users don’t really need a smartphone and don’t use them much beyond communications, Facebook, and snapshots. whereas iPhone users are generally engaged with their apps. in this case, installed base doesn’t matter. it’s about useage patterns.

    as to tablets, it’s the combined effect of the much larger iPad installed base plus the higher average incomes of iPad owners. that product = the total spending power of Apple vs. Android tablet owners, which would logically be reflected in the web stats of shopping site visits.

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  • Calahas

    @ Horace,
    A data-driven conclusion as is typical and very well-done like your previous analyses. But shouldn’t the comparison have been between Samsung devices and Apple devices in the mobile shopping segment for Bkack Friday sales?
    You yourself wrote a clear and insightful article earlier articulating how Samsung overtook Google in the mobile industry (not Apple) and how Samsung’s gross margins beat Google’s gross margins by a wide range (about $4.5 billion – $5 billion more or around that range) in recent quarters. And how the decelerating cost-per-click in both the desktop ad industries is not being replaced at the same rate by rising or stagnated mobile ad revenue at Google pointing to Google’s problems at mobile ad data monetization.
    This also explains another reason that Apple never sued Google directly on Android patents. Android OS does not make money for itself by itself. It is actually the device hardware maker and the device platform firmware programmer that is responsible for device sales and that makes most or all of the money (revenue, profits) in the mobile industry. The OS is actually not materially responsible for revenue unlike the hardware and chips themselves.
    The study should have compared Apple iOS shopping sales to Samsung Android Galaxy shopping sales. That is an apples-to-apples comparison to be fair to all involved.

    • Kizedek

      “The study should have compared Apple iOS shopping sales to Samsung Android Galaxy shopping sales. That is an apples-to-apples comparison to be fair to all involved.”

      Not really. I don’t think the article or stats were saying that a higher percentage of iOS devices were being used for shopping than the percentage of Android devices being used for shopping. That would go without saying, as most “Android” devices aren’t or aren’t being used as “smart” devices. Then you would have a case to try and make the comparison more “fair”.

      Rather, as a relatively small group (in terms of both models and absolute unit numbers) out of ALL phones and tablets in the whole world, iOS devices account for an astonishingly large proportion of TOTAL mobile web usage. How does one account for that? That’s pretty amazing, because the comparison as it stands is actually in favor of Android, in all its flavors and no matter what devices it is put on and how those devices are used.

      And why shouldn’t this be fair? After all, “Android” is constantly compared to iOS, and deemed to be “winning” in terms of activations and market share. Why is iOS not compared to “smartphones” and tablets alone in those cases?

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  • Roger Mercer

    Amazing number of highly informed intellectually interesting observations here. What a wonderful thread. I seldom read so many good comments from so many informed, intelligent people. Does my heart good.

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  • fafot

    As I see it the younger generation is more technological and therefore buys iOS phones = iPhone. The older generation are mostly later adopters and they don’t care so much which phone/smartphone they buy. So it is usual a cheaper choice = Android .

    As a result – the iOS users are much more engaged than Android users.

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  • Renzo

    Just a comment, buying from safari is a far better experience than buying on android browser, maybe this is a software quality issue..

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  • MonkeyKing01

    You all missed the biggest problem: Apps. Stores make apps for IOS they do not make for Android. Its easy enough to find an Ipad app for a store and next to impossible to find the same for Android. I think the actual problem here is retailers that think that IOS is the sexier device while ignoring Android.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/tkejlboom John Lin

    So, this is based upon companies using IBM for informatics? It could still entirely be a factor of user. I’m android and the only shopping I did was on ThinkGeek and Buckyballs. Perhaps there is merely a corollary between iPhone users and the brands which employ IBM.

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  • Thomas Kopp

    I’m interested in the way how this data is collected. There are some points to be considered:
    - Does an Android phone identify itself always as an android phone? (different browsers? some browser on android have an option to identify themselves as an iphone!)
    - Do Android users rather use the full website (bigger screen!) while iPhone users receive “iPhone-optimized” versions of the website? Use of the full website may be is counted as “fixed”?

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  • ralphmwhite3

    Asymco Comment
    I think this is related to a wider phenomenon I’ve noticed in computer use. Most people can’t be bothered to learn how to use computers in general. With respect to this article, I think it shows that most people mostly want their phones to be phones, smart or not. The people who buy iPhones want their phones to be computers, and purchased them with that intent. My guess is that most [emphasis, most] people who buy Android want a smartphone for basic things like email, maps, and Internet, but want it at a lower price point than Apple provides, so they say ‘whatever’ and never notice the difference.

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  • JeremyWM

    The answer is pretty straightforward. The IDC and Comscore market share numbers are wildly inaccurate. They are based on surveys from a small, mostly technical sample. Or extrapolations from limited phone shipment data. We do have actual sales figures of iPhones and androids from the two largest carriers in the US. Verizon 3rd quarter 2012, iPhone 3.1M, Android 3.4M. AT&T 6.1M phones total, 4.7M iPhones. Sprint added 1.5m iphones, android sales not reported tho they report 1M LTE devices sold, lets say 800k of those are Android. Iphone sales were up from last quarter too

    Yet according to IDC for the same period we got 75% Android and 20% iOS. And android increased its marketshare even tho in actual sales the iphone increased froom last quarter. But if you look at actual sales and not “estimates” you get 9.3M iPhones and 5.6M androids sold in the US in the 3Q. Using actual sales figures, factoring in the percentage of Androids using a old, pre OS 4.0, 90%, giving a very poor browsing experience those IBM figures aren’t surprising at all. Those figures also don’t include iPod touches either.

    If you look at any other actual usage data, ie iOS Internet browser share, developer income, shopping statistics and mobile ad impressions they all tie in with the sales figure of real actual verifiable numbers. Compare this to a bunch of surveys, which do you think gives a more accurate picture?

  • tvf77

    Apple users usually have a higher disposable income and are more susceptible to marketing. They are very often fashion-/design-oriented, which almost requires more shopping.
    Technical aside: This is simply a traffic analysis, which means it suffers from all problems traffic analysis brings: distortion by intelligent caching mechanisms, different browsers (which is typical for Android), ad blockers (which is very rare on Apple devices), privacy protection software (which is very rare on Apple devices) etc.

    You would have to combine this analysis with actual dollars spent on Black Friday per device, with disposable income of the device owners, etc.

    Another side note: I would dispute the classification of tabled use as “mobile” use, as most people I see browsing and shopping on tablets are doing this from their living room (but this is purely anecdotical).

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  • http://twitter.com/sanideos sanideos

    It’s good to see that quite a few people agree that the difference in engagement levels comes from the true reason behind a new Android device.The fact is that more than 75% of new Android users choose an Android device just because they don’t want to lag in the smartphone race. They have no real need or a fervent wish for a smartphone lifestyle.

    Here a different take on it. The truth about smart phone market shares; what the numbers don’t tell.http://mindtreeux.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/the-not-so-smart-market-shares-of-smart.html

  • AnotherRandomGuest

    Demographics are a key factor to consider when research shopping habits and that being absent from this piece exposes its results to speculation and conjecture. While one cannot discount the value that iOS as an operating system adds to a user’s shopping experience over Android, as is proposed in this case, I would imagine that there is a correlation with the end users’ ability/willingness to engage in the activity of shopping in the first place.

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  • trends

    Facebook Usage is more in Android Platform than iOS for more information

    http://www.trendsfair.com/facebook-usage-is-more-in-android-platform-than-ios/

    It is a very well known fact that Google’s Android market
    share is very much higher than Apple’s iOS market share. Also, we know
    that the craze for smart phones has been increasing now-a-days and hence
    people are using mobile web more than…

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  • http://www.facebook.com/rune.ydstebo Rune Ydstebo

    Friend of mine, he is convinced that numbers are wrong, as most Android user set web setting to full desktop mode, and then it looks like a desktop and not tablet or phone, any comment on that statement ?

    • Swordmaker1949

      It will still be reported as an Android device. They don’t show up in any significant numbers in desktop statistics. iPhones can connect as full desktop as well, but the OS is still iOS. Either will still be the same OS.

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