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The new digital divide

Consumers in American and elsewhere are buying a lot more Android devices than iOS devices, but they don’t seem to be doing much with them. In a post yesterday that has been getting a lot of attention (including from our own Colin Gibbs) Horace Dediu of Asymco notes a huge skew in the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark data on e-commerce activity over Thanksgiving between Android and iOS shoppers. While more people carry Android phones, the Google platform accounted for only 23 percent of mobile online shopping traffic, while iOS accounted for 74 percent.

Dediu attributes the gap to the rise of the iPad as the primarily mobile e-commerce device, supplanting phones, while Gibbs speculates that that Apple’s more tightly controlled ecosystem and user experience simply makes iOS devices more usable than Androids. Whatever the reason, though, the stark difference in the degree of engagement between the platforms holds significant implications for content providers and distributors, as well as for app developers.

In effect, platform preference is becoming a pretty good proxy for engagement generally. So if engagement is critical to your monetization strategy, the data suggest you should be putting a lot more of your eggs in the iOS basket than in Android.