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iOS trumps Android in mobile shopping. So what?

Gregg Keizer | Dec. 3, 2014
Data may tell a tale of affluence, but there's more to iOS than wealthy consumers, say analysts.

Because the mobile shopping prominence of iOS was not new, nor indicative of much more than what was already known, some pooh-poohed the data. "I don't think this is news," said Stephen Baker, a retail analyst for the NPD Group. "Most of this is people reporting what they can report rather than having what they would like to report."

Absent from the information are a whole host of "wouldn't-it-be-great-to-know" data points that no one, NPD included, has been able to capture, said Baker, especially granular data on what mobile shoppers buy and down-to-the-individual splits on online purchases between different platforms.

"It would be great to know exactly what iOS owners are buying," said Baker. "It's far easier, for example, to buy digital content than physical goods on a smartphone."

The whole online-versus-offline segmentation is on its way out in any case, some said.

"This is not nearly as relevant as last year," said Baker. "More and more retail is omni-channel, where there's not a big difference between physical stores and online in the products they sell or the deals they do. Retail is increasingly agnostic."

But not entirely, others argued.

IBM said that personal computers accounted for 74% of Black Friday online sales revenue in the U.S., about three times that of mobile, meaning smartphones and tablets.

"This shows the trust and comfort level many in the U.S. have in making purchases on the PC," said Ben Bajarin, principal analyst with Creative Strategies, in a piece posted Monday on Tech.pinions (subscription required). "What struck me is how different this picture is with regard to the PC and e-commerce in the U.S. versus other regions I study, particularly markets like India and China."

Bajarin's interpretation of the IBM data made him wonder whether the U.S. is behind the mobile curve, with consumers relying much more on relatively stationary PCs and Macs to finalize their purchases rather than going all-in on smartphones and, to a lesser extent, tablets.

"[This] is potentially a roadblock keeping the U.S. from progressing to the mobile reality the rest of the world is living in," Bajarin wrote. "Perhaps this is just a matter of time, but the centrality of the PC in the U.S. may be a negative compared to innovative things happening in markets where the mobile is the center of consumers' universe."


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