Monday, December 24, 2012

The Android Vs iOS Engagement Conundrum

My first thought.Even though Android has 75% of the WW market share and iOS is a mere niche player with 15%, iOS has been around longer (3 years more than Android) and as such, has built a more holistic ecosystem. The ecosystem I am talking about is not just the app store and the experience of iOS, it's also the users/consumers who have grown and evolved along with the evolution of Apple. These people are more internet savvy and know how to get the most out of the modern-day mobile experience which includes shopping, making reservations, using location services, etc, etc. OK so that takes care of the early adopters of iPhone who have, as I said, evolved along with the iPhone's evolution.

Horace Dediu, Asymco

My second one.
What about the newer users; the ones who have jumped on the iPhone band wagon from iPhone 4S and on-wards? We can apportion some of the reason to demographics. That is, iPhone/iPad buyers must be, demographically, different from Android buyers. They may be more affluent? They may have more college degrees? They may be single? I don't have the exact details to slice-n-dice the data, but this should affect the engagement level also. If they are indeed more affluent, then it makes sense that they spend more on online shopping than Android users do. To find out exactly how much of the gap (23% Vs. 77% of US Mobile Thanksgiving shopping in 2012) can be apportioned to the demographics factor, we would need exact demographics of iPhone/iPad buyers. We will need to assign weights to these key demographics then quantify the results and reconcile it with the gap.

The third and final thought...

...I have is that, the mobile experience is more leisurely with a bigger screen. Online shopping is more fun (for me at least) on a bigger screen because its easier to see the product, compare it and generally enjoy the experience. To enjoy this experience on a bigger mobile screen means to do it on a tablet. Again iPads have been around for longer and while Android is killing Apple on the smartphone side, it is not so on the tablet side. Android smartphones have, arguably, caught up to iOS performance in the last 6 months (with Jellybean), but its a different story on the tablet front. The recently unveiled nexus 7 & 10 have a chance to live up to the expectations but its too soon since these tablets have just gone on sale. Android needs to build a critical mass on the tablet side via a better tablet performance / experience to overcome the size factor in the engagement gap. So, effectively, at the moment Android is missing a whole device category as compared to Apple.

In Conclusion...

My gut feeling is that Android will come close to iOS on engagement but we need to give Big-G some time.  Will it surpass iOS on engagement?  I don't know; I feel doubtful.  The reason is that the iPhone and iPad are premium products and typically bought by more affluent customers.  While Android is the mobile OS that powers high-end smartphones, it also powers very low-end smartphones.  This waters-down the premium effect for Android customer-base.  

Its time for Android to improve on the experience through software and ecosystem/apps and time to build a critical mass on the bigger screen devices. So to summarize, its 'evolved iOS users,' 'demographics,' and 'critical mass on bigger screen' to shed some light on the engagement conundrum.

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