Why the number of Smartphones per Country doesn’t help your Mobile Strategy

I recently read an intriguing article by Harrison Weber on TNW (a great site, what do you mean your not reading it?!) entitled iOS and Android are being adopted faster than any consumer technology in history. The report was generated by Flurry, a real-time Analytics firm.

Funnily enough, the part that interested me was not the iOS/Android war, it was the data around total number of Smartphones per Country. Specifically, this chart (I’ve rebuilt this as the chart on TNW isnt too clear and for other reasons, which will be 🙂

Here’s the chart:

So. It shows the total number of Smartphones in each Country. If you are a a company with an interest in marketing yourself at Consumers you might walk away with the impression that USA & China are the Countries you should target. After all, they have the most smartphones, right? Wrong. If your building multi-channel operations in a multi-country context I’d argue that what you are really looking for is where are the savvy smartphone consumers? Which countries have smartphone penetration that can mean something to my #socialmedia & #mobile strategies?

So, I played with the data very slightly and came up with the following. This chart shows the penetration of smartphone useage as a percentage of the population of each country:

Wow! Quite a difference here. This chart shows that the country with the heaviest (and de-facto most savvy) smartphone consumers is South Korea. Other key target countries are USA, UK and Canada, with Spain & France closely fighting for the 5th spot.

This data was based by looking up the total population of each country (I used the World Fact Book data and each countries’ population was indicated to be correct as of June 2012) and getting the percentage from the total smartphone number/population.

So, whats the bottom line? Well for me its this; analytics are great (I’m a big fan) but, be careful what you think your getting when the data gets churned, you may base an entire strategy on the wrong thinking.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that Flurry has a brilliant tool here. There are a lot of good tools on the market but, the key to a succesful strategy are your people – are they asking the right questions when creating your business-critical strategies? If they are solely relying on software, you could be in trouble – I suggest you bring in people who can help ask the right questions and help tease out the relevant information before rushing toward a potentially failing business plan.


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