BLOG STARTUPS, VENTURE AND THE TECH BUSINESS

November 20 2013
by Todd Hixon

Android: The OS For Serious People?

A VC: Android and iOS Demographics In The US.

CivicScience: How To Tell An Android User From An iOS User

(Credit: CivicScience, Inc. www.civicscience.com)

 

Recently some good minds have dug into the difference between customers who choose Android and iOS devices (in most cases, phones). Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures in his blog “A VC” took a look at the top 40 apps for the two platforms, which are remarkably different, and drew intriguing conclusions about users.

The Pew Internet Project has published basic demographic data on Android and iOS users. And, CivicScience, a Pittsburgh start-up that provides a professional market research platform based on web polling*, took a close look at the preferences and lifestyle characteristics of 130,000 smart phone users.

Fred Wilson’s analysis revealed strong differences between Android and iOS users’ app preferences:

  • Five of the top ten iOS apps are games, but only two of the top 10 Android apps.
  • Nine of the top 40 Android apps are utilities, but only three of the top 40 iOS apps.
  • The shopping apps in the Android top 40 are Amazon and eBay (everyday value stores); on iOS they are GroupOn, Black Friday, and Target Cartwheel (more opportunistic shopping).

This data made me think that Android might well be the OS for serious people. Fred speculates that Android users are a “barbell” (two-peak) distribution of young, price-sensitive buyers and over-forties like Fred (and me) who care about a bigger screen and utility, and iOS has the university students and young adults in the middle.

Android market share / iOS market share versus income, education, and age. Data via Pew Internet Project.

 

Pew sheds more light on the demographics (source). The chart above shows relative penetration of Android/iOS versus income, education, and age. Clearly education/income is a big factor: more affluent people prefer iPhones. [I put these two variables together because education and income are strongly correlated.] Age may be a factor too: younger people prefer Android. But we could just be seeing the income effect again: older people tend to be more affluent.

CivicScience provides a more textured, multifaceted understanding of who Android and iOS users are. Some highlights from their analysis:

  • Android users prefer Country, Classic Rock, and Metal music more than the average smartphone user (they “over-index” for these things). iOS users over-index for Alternative, Indie Rock, and and Pop/Top 40.
  • Android users over-index in geek jobs; iOS users over-index in professional/managerial roles.
  • Android users over-index for action and horror movies; iOS users for drama and comedy.
  • Finally, at the coffee shop, Android users go for the plain coffee, and iOS users go for cappuccino and the like.

So, who are those guys, the Android users? Partly they are a less affluent group: less educated, younger, and lower income.

I also see a difference in character. Android users are a tech-savvy but pragmatic bunch (geeks, utility apps, Amazon shoppers, big screens, regular coffee), while iOS users live larger (managers and professionals, opportunistic shopping, the daily cappuccino). And while iOS users are actualizing the self and livin’ the dream (Indie Rock, casual games, dramatic movies), Android users are sadder, more fatalistic, looking for some escape (country music, action movies).

For me this has an echo of the big divide in U.S. society between the affluent, successful, powerful few and the many who soldier on with quiet competence in jobs they dislike, struggling to make ends meet. It’s no surprise that, as it’s product advantage diminishes, Apple recently hired the CEO of Burberry to run its retail business (more), and appears to be morphing into a luxury goods company.

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*New Atlantic Ventures, in which I am a partner, is an investor in CivicScience.

This post first appeared at blogs.forbes.com/toddhixon on November 13, 2013.

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