We love it when an infographic presents data in a clean, simple way — and when the data happens to be totally baffling. For example, let's look at this chart, produced by Trulia, one of the leading real estate listing websites.
Trulia simply looked at their traffic data, and produced a chart showing how prevalent Android use was versus iPhone use, in the course of two weeks in April:[Click to visit interactive version]
Now, there's been lots of crazy data showing that Android phones currently far outsell iPhones — and that Android owns as much as 50% of the smartphone market. So if you were looking at the graph above, you'd expect that Android access would far outstrip iPhone use. After all, isn't Android market share more than double that of the iPhone? Instead, you get the opposite: iPhones rule. And not by a little bit. They dominate.
What the eff is going on here?
We mulled the data for a while, and most of the obvious explanations don't make sense. For example, you could argue that this data presents a sampling error — that Trulia's audience is simply lots of people who happen to be "the iPhone type." But Trulia actually has a very large mobile-user base, and has 4.8 million listings on its website. In other words, that's a pretty damn big sample. It's hard to believe that such a sampling error would hold up in the face of so much data.
Android users are a far different lot than iPhone users.
You could also argue that these numbers are simply a function of geography and cellphone coverage. But then again, when you look at the fine-grained data, the iPhone dominance holds up: 66% in New York, 83% in Chicago, and 90% in Atlanta. (Conversely, you do see a couple cities where AT&T and Verizon, the only companies offering the iPhone, seem to be particularly bad, such as Kansas City.)
The only explanations that make sense to us have to do with what kind of person has an Android or iPhone. It could simply be that Android and iPhone users have different relationships to their phones. Or, they might be simply different types of people.
Consider this: It takes a pretty tech savvy, first-adopter type of person to search real estate listings on their smartphone. This isn't something you could readily do just two years ago.
Or consider this: If you're on the move, or even on the couch, you have to like your phone very much to want to sift through real estate listings on that tiny screen. Your phone has probably become so convenient to you that you don't even think of it any longer as a diminished browsing experience. You just use it anytime it's in arm's reach, when you need the Internet.
Either way, it would seem that Android users are a far different lot than iPhone users. Granted, this is all just an educated guess — the only thing that would firmly settle some of these questions is how much data is being used by Android vs. iPhone customers. (It bears pointing out that when the iPhone was introduced, its users consumed five times more data than the smartphone average.)
What do you guys think? Any other explanations that I'm missing here?
UPDATE: So it turns out that there is a major piece of data missing in the above analysis: Turns out, the Android app was almost brand new when the data was pulled, while the iPhone app had been around for quiet a while. So, take everything above with a grain of salt. And score one for all you data hounds that got to the root of the mystery.
[Visit Trulia to see the interactive chart]