updated 10:48 pm EST, Mon December 30, 2013
Some recipients may not boast about getting some brands, of course
As is usually done after the holidays, a survey of tweets bragging that someone "got an iPad" or "Got a Kindle" on Twitter has shown yet again that iOS devices are in a class by themselves when it comes to owner pride or excitement -- and provides yet another real-world indicator that end-user sales of competing devices may not match up with "shipments" reports. A test by Topsy Analytics found that iOS devices still have no real rivals.
Topsy's survey measured the number of tweets that contained the phrases "got iPad," "got Kindle" and "got Note," the latter a potentially-unclear reference to Samsung's latest Galaxy Note 3. While the analytics company presumably screened out "false positive" messages like "got a great note from my mom on Facebook," the chart produced paints a very clear picture: more than 120,000 Twitter users posted about their new iPad on Christmas. Other brands barely rose above normal levels, though the Kindle (which would have included both Kindle Fire tablets and Kindle e-readers in Topsy's survey) jumped noticeably.
Topsy's service is user-accessible, allowing visitors to enter three search terms and discover the trend. For example, when we put in "got iPad Air" and "got iPad mini," we saw that nearly identical numbers of people wrote about the two iPad models, suggesting sales of each model might have been about equal. Likewise, a check on "got iPhone 5s" and "got iPhone 5c" reiterated speculation that the iPhone 5s outsells the 5c by about two-to-one.
A check on "Kindle Fire" and "Fire HD" versus just "got Kindle" raises the possibility that Kindle tablet sales either still don't compare to Kindle e-reader sales, or that people use the term "Kindle" to refer to any Kindle-branded device. In total, however, only 22,000 Twitter members tweeted about their Kindle gift.
By comparison, some 76,000 people tweeted specifically mentioning "got iPhone 5s" or "got iPhone 5c." Using the more generic "got iPhone," over 272,000 people specifically mentioned they got one over the Christmas holiday. Similarly, "got iPad" did much better (120,000+) than specific "iPad Air" or "iPad mini" searches did (about 14,000 combined). Across the board, iOS devices were tweeted about many times more often than competitors, with "got Note" -- which likely includes some false positives -- drawing 46,617 tweets, "got Kindle" with around 22,000 total, and "got Surface" at around 4,000.
When we tried other terms like "Samsung Note" or "Galaxy Note" to see if we could eliminate the likely non-smartphone devices, we came up with numbers between 1,000 and 2,000 compared to "Got Note"'s 46,000, strongly suggesting that "note" is too generic a word to get accurate tweets on. Interestingly, people tweeting about getting a Mac for Christmas were about half as many as who tweeted about getting an iPad, which in turn was a bit less than half as many who tweeted about getting an iPhone -- which could hint at stronger-than-normal Mac sales for the holiday quarter.
One last note: when we tried a stronger emotional message -- "love iPad," "love iPhone" and "love Kindle" -- the trend was maintained, though the numbers were smaller (30K, 70K and 17K respectively).