Special report: How we really use our camera phones

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You didn’t need the latest wave of selfie sticks to know that personal media on mobile devices is huge. People are taking photos and videos all the time, and Instagram and Vine have become the new social media darlings. But take a closer look at personal media, and you’ll start to notice some very interesting differences.

iOS users for example are on average taking a lot more photos than Android users, and women are a lot more into collecting visual memories than men. Personal media startup Magisto has been noticing very distinct differences for some time, and recently, the company gathered and shared some of its data and insights exclusively with Gigaom. The results are surprising, and a must-read for anyone building products for personal media or social online.

Now, it’s worth noting that Magisto’s data is somewhat self-selective. The company makes an app that helps you to turn your everyday snapshots and video clips into short, shareable videos, complete with soundtracks and visual effects. It’s safe to assume that people who don’t take any photos at all wouldn’t download Magisto to begin with. However, the company decided to look only at new users to exclude any feedback effects of users taking more photos or videos specifically because they’ve been using the app. Altogether, Magisto analyzed the personal media habits of 66,000 iOS and Android users worldwide for this report.

average

First things first: We really do take a lot of photos. The average user takes 150 new photos during a given month, according to Magisto. That’s about 5 photos a day. Video capturing, on the other hand, is still a lot less prevalent, with users taking on average just 7.5 videos during a given month. In other words, for every single video recorded, people take on average 20 photos. And most of these videos are pretty short: Those 7.5 clips make up just 7 minutes of footage combined.

roll

People don’t just take a lot of photos every month, they also like to collect them and carry them around for some time. The average user has 630 photos and 24 videos stored on their mobile device, with those videos again just amounting for 23 minutes of footage total. Apparently, very few people like to record their very first full-length feature films with their phones.

But these are just worldwide averages, across different device platforms, age groups and gender lines. Dive down a little deeper, and you’ll start to see a lot of very different usage patterns. Let’s begin with one of the biggest lines dividing us as a people: iOS vs. Android.

iOS

iOS users take 65 percent more photos during any given month that their Android counterparts: The average iOS user takes 182 photos per month, while Android users only take 111 photos on average. That discrepancy continues when you look at the size of camera rolls on both platforms: The average iOS device holds 2.3 times as many photos as the average Android device.

There are a number of possible explanations for this. One is that the Android ecosystem doesn’t just include $600 flagship phones, but also very cheap devices, some of which can be had for $50 or less with a prepaid plan. These lower-end devices typically come with a lot less internal storage, which impacts their owners’ abilities to capture personal media. You just won’t take 180 photos a month if your phone constantly complains about running out of storage.

One could also argue that Apple has historically done a great job at making iPhone photos look good, which encourages people to take more photos. Again, some of the more expensive Android flagship phones also take beautiful pictures, but a cheaper Android handset may not.

Female

One’s choice of mobile operating system isn’t the only factor that influences personal media habits — our gender has a lot to do with it as well: Women take on average 47 percent more photos than men, whereas men take 15 percent more videos than women. And the biggest photo lovers are female iPhone users under the age of 25, taking an average of 250 photos per month.

Finding a good explanation for this may be even harder than explaining why iOS users take more photos than Android users (and your chances of offending someone are equally as high), but this discrepancy explains a lot with regards to the types of social and user-generated services popular online today. Just think of Pinterest, one of the most visual social content platforms online, whose user base is reportedly 80 percent female.

The slight male dominance in video recording is also interesting, as it could point to a perception problem for video that may have to do with the way it’s currently being presented in capturing and editing apps. Or maybe it’s just long-ingrained collective gender stereotypes. Just think back to your family parties back in the 1990s or even the ’80s, long before everyone recorded everything with smart phones. That cousin dramatically crawling on the floor with a camcorder in one hand to get the best shot? Likely a guy.

And just for the record: Male Android users take the least amount of photos, with an average of just 90 photos per month.

Male

All of those numbers are global averages, but there are also interesting regional differences. Magisto didn’t share too much of this data with us — the company does have competitors, after all — but it highlighted one interesting outlier: Mobile users in Japan capture a lot more media than anyone else.

The average Japanese camera roll contains 1,500 photos and videos, which is 2.3 times the global average. As in the rest of the world, women under 25 who use iPhones once again capture the most photos — they are just taking even more snapshots than their counterparts in the rest of the world. On average, young female iOS users in Japan take more than 300 photos a month – that’s about ten every single day.

Maybe the rest of the world will catch up to this behavior in the coming years — but it’s likely that differences along gender lines as well as mobile platforms will continue to be a factor for some time, giving startups some cues which users to concentrate one, or even which challenges to tackle in order to close these gaps.

Images and additional reporting by Biz Carson.

2 Comments

Stellage

Nonsence that cheap phones run out of memory. Unlike the expensive ones, cheap phone can add cheap memory cards to expand their storage. :)

jjj

That’s like wanting to analyze eating habits and only looking at vegetarians.
You can look at how people use their camera if you look only at those that upload the media to some service. All and any conclusions are just not representative.

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