updated 07:30 pm EDT, Wed May 29, 2013
Just over 50 percent more time spent, but in similar areas
Seemingly supporting Apple CEO Tim Cook's remarks that the true measure of a successful product is less about just sales and more about customer satisfaction and use, credit agency and market analyst Experian has reported that iPhone users spend just over 50 percent more time on their devices than Android smartphone. While the results are open to interpretation, the other finding of the study may be more surprising: contrary to theories that claim Android users are fundamentally different than iOS users, the study shows largely similar usage patterns.
Android users were seen to be actively using their device for about 49 minutes per day, while iOS users spend more than one hour 15 minutes per day -- the implication being that iOS users enjoy using their devices (or use them more widely) than Android users. The actual breakdown of use, however, shows that Android and iOS users actually focus on largely the same areas in roughly the same percentages. While Android users seem to favor using the phone somewhat more than iOS while iPhone users tend to text more than Android users, and both groups are about equal on social networking on games.
In other areas like email and social networking, the differences are just a couple of percentage points. While it can be broadly said that iPhone users tend to be a bit more diverse in their areas of usage than Android users, overall the groups seem very similar in most areas except the amount of time spent on the device. The reason for the difference in time spent isn't clear, and could be covered by a number of different explanations: Tim Cook believes it is because people enjoy using iOS more, but other studies have suggested that Android users tend to spend less on data plans than iOS users on average, and thus use Internet-dependent apps less than their iOS counterparts.
Overall, Americans average (across both smartphone platforms) about 58 minutes a day on their devices, with talking and texting being by far the largest two categories of use (surfing and social networking being the other two largest categories, with everything else in roughly single-digit territory). Overall, the biggest four categories make up 75 percent of daily use, according to the study -- which is based on data from Experian's Simmons Connect mobile and digital panel (an opt-in polling panel of users from Simmons' national consumer and Hispanic consumer focus groups).
Different age demographics may have markedly different patterns when broken out (for example, teens text more than seniors), but the study may also be pointing towards the fundamental answer of why Android does as well as it does in the overall market: its users, even more so than iOS users, focus primarily on the "core" features of talking and texting -- and subsequently appear to treat their smartphones more like "advanced feature phones" compared to iOS users, who tend to treat their device as a portable computer that also happens to be a phone.