Androids, Androids everywhere and not a purchase made

It’s perplexing. While the Android platform has significantly more devices in consumers’ hands (roughly 68% of the global smartphone market vs. 17% for iOS), Apple has more engagement. During the shopping weekend of the year (Black Friday through Cyber Monday), they had significantly more; they dominated holiday shopping (Android had 23% mobile traffic vs. Apple at 77%). With the increasingly important role that mobile is playing in brand strategies, this is a perplexing user-experience question. Why do Apple users engage so much more than Android users? The question is only just coming to light; it will be interesting to see what insights come from exploring this conundrum.

What is clear right now is that understanding what is going on here will not be simple nor easy. It’s not just a matter of having lots of users new to the smartphone experience and not familiar or comfortable with mobile commerce. Android has blanketed the market with both high- and low-end devices targeting both the first-time smartphone owner and the tech savvy consumer. With more than 25 Billion app downloads, all those credit card numbers are on file and waiting to be used.

Look at Samsung’s direct push against Apple with their Galaxy S3 targeting a very valuable demographic (mid-20s, tech-savvy, and employed). The smartphone demographic will be changing in the future, but not now (check out the chart from Business Insider below). In the future, demographics are going to shift older and poorer as the younger, affluent crowd is already on smartphones.

The web is littered with reviews pitting the latest and greatest devices from Apple and Android. There is not consensus nor a clear winner any more (in online reviews at least), so it’s not just a device feature and functionality problem. There look to be several factors working here, tablets and payment infrastructure.

First, Apple has completely overwhelmed Android in the tablet space. In Asymco’s analysis (link below), the iPad + iPhone had 4x the online shopping traffic as just Android phones while Android tablets didn’t even register. Second-screen shopping is only just coming into its own as an e-commerce channel and that definitely is a factor.

A second factor is the ease with which people can purchase on mobile phones (see any eBay ad recently). To the degree purchases are made in-app, Apple has made this process almost too smooth and easy.  Compare that to the fractured payment infrastructure that Android must support (Does Google, PayPal, the carrier or some other third-party handle billing?) and it’s obvious that anything more than a click to buy in a mobile app becomes a major barrier to purchase.

These two factors together mean that it’s not necessarily a problem for CPG brands to solve. It is something that needs to be understood and accounted for as part of the entire consumer interaction experience with the brand. One thing that is missing from the reports is how many missed opportunities there were because brands and retailers weren’t ready to support this new style of interaction.  The environment in which brands operate is in a state of constant flux, now more than ever before (and less than it will be in the future). It’s not survival of the fittest; it’s survival of the most adaptable.

Beyond the obvious, such as creating a “good” iOS experience, what should marketers do? Here are three things that everyone should keep in mind:

  1. Mobile first is a great start, but to keep up with consumers, marketers must look at all the places that consumers will interact with the brand. Does the brand have communication channels setup to actually converse (not just talk at) consumers? Is there an actual value exchange happening there?
  2. Tablets are a strong and growing force in mobile commerce, does the brand support that experience? Sitting on the couch and buying stuff while watching TV is very different interaction than using checking prices on the phone in store or talking about a brand’s social post.
  3. Change is both omni-present and accelerating, is the brand setup to react well to the changes they know about? Once the brand can manage change well? Can it start to drive change?

The signs are clear, the landscape is in flux, and the only real question is how well the brand is setup to adapt to the new consumers; both reacting and helping to guide them in a direction that works for everyone.

Randall Noval


iOS devices dominate mobile device online shopping stats

Online shoppers are increasingly using mobile devices to buy gifts for the holidays, according to IBM’s 2012 Holiday Benchmark Report, and those shoppers overwhelmingly prefer Apple’s iPad and iPhone to do so. Black Friday purchases via mobile devices accounted for nearly one quarter of all sales for the busy holiday shopping day, up from 14.3 percent in 2011 and 5.2 percent in 2010. And, according to further analysis by Asymco, 77 percent of all those mobile purchase originated from an iOS device.

“The iPad generated more traffic than any other tablet or smart phone, reaching nearly 10 percent of [all] online shopping,” IBM noted in a press release. “This was followed by iPhone at 8.7 percent and Android [at] 5.5 percent.”

Mobile Market Share Not Equivalent to Usage Share

The Android engagement paradox

Here’s The Next Group Of U.S. Smartphone Buyers – Chart

IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark Black Friday Results 2012

Google Play hits 25 billion downloads

Android Users Versus iOS Users


Should mobile ads be different?

I think it kind of depends on your perspective. If mobile is just another distribution channel, then the ads can just be resized and you’re done. If it’s a completely different experience though, there are opportunities to tell a different story, one that directly engages the person viewing it, pulls them into the story by making them participate. That completely changes the story then, because it’s not about how you want to tell it, it’s about how they experience it.

Case in point, this innovative ad talking about violence in the workplace. I suggest watching the video below at full-screen, even though you’re not directly interacting with the ad, you’ll still feel a strong reaction (I know I did).

Violence Against Women Place Startling Ad in Vogue iPad App

Now this is how you get a message across! As part of international day against violence towards women in 2011, BFF: Women against Violence wanted to highlight the fact that one in every four women experience violence, a startling statistic on its own, but German agency Plan Net Global decided to take it a step further.

So in the editorial section of the fashion magazine Vogue, it inserted an ad to raise awareness of this fact and the way it does this has to be seen to be believed. Explaining what actually happens will only diminish the impact it has (and it’s also the reason why we had to use a boring screenshot), but you will definitely be startled when you see the ad in action. Not only it’s very effective way of playing with your emotions and getting a reaction, but it also makes brilliant use of the iPad’s capabilities.

The campaign was created by Plan Net Global, which is based in Hamburg, Germany.

UPDATE: It looks like the original video has been taken offline, here is another video that has the ad as part of a case study.

– Randall Noval