Unwrapping Christmas Data

This Christmas, we saw one surefire way to get Americans to put down their phones: give them a stack of presents. While there was certainly a lot to covet this year -- from gold iPhones to personal drones -- we're of a singular mindset at Mixpanel: data is one gift that truly keeps on giving.

We're pleased to give you one last, belated present: the second annual Mixpanel Christmas Metrics report. We've taken a deeper dive into metrics from December 25, 2013, to paint a portrait of consumer behavior on a day that many spend with family, friends, and handheld devices.

Every month, Mixpanel analyzes more than 17 billion actions. This report is based on actions analyzed by Mixpanel on December 25, 2013, December 25, 2012, and on November 28, 2013 (Thanksgiving). Actions in Mixpanel are defined by our customers and can be anything from making a purchase to finishing a level in a game. Over 1,700 businesses use Mixpanel to better understand their customers' activity and engagement. All traffic in this report was generated by people in the United States.

Christmas Traditions: Family, Friends, and an Internet Connection

For a day traditionally spent with family and friends, we saw Americans also spent some quality time on their devices. On December 25, 2013, Mixpanel analyzed 1.2 billion actions, a 66% increase over last Christmas (December 25, 2012). And on Christmas Day, a whopping 90% of activity was generated in mobile apps.

There was a significant dip in traffic around 10:30 in the morning, with a sharp spike at noon and another peak at 2:00 in the afternoon, which suggests to us that Americans put down the handhelds to open their presents mid- morning, then jumped back on their devices in the early afternoon once the gift-giving frenzy had died down. The dip is notable when compared to the same chart from December 14, just two Saturdays prior.

The top five cities sending the most data on Christmas:

  1. Los Angeles

  2. Chicago

  3. Houston

  4. Brooklyn

  5. New York

For those of us in the Bay Area, it was surprising to see that San Francisco didn't even make the top 10 -- perhaps this indicates that people traveled back home for the holidays, not far-fetched for a city full of transplants from elsewhere (like, say, Houston?).

Santa Isn't Real, But Christmas is Still for Kids

As Christmas Day continued, we noticed an uptick in gaming activity -- with 58% of traffic coming from gaming apps, and only 11% coming from social. Our hypothesis here is that kids came down from unwrapping and sugar highs while adults documented the morning's festivities on social networks -- or jumped in on playing a game with their kids. Given the huge disparity between the two, we think we can safely say that Christmas is a kids holiday. (Please do note that we have more customers in the gaming vertical than in the social space, which could influence or skew these results.)

Biggest gaming cities:

  1. Los Angeles

  2. Houston

  3. Chicago

  4. Brooklyn

  5. Bronx

A Very Apple Christmas?

Tim Cook predicted in October that it was going to be an "iPad Christmas"; given the data that poured in on Christmas Day, we'd be remiss to disagree with him.

Cook was onto something with tablets, of course; in 2013, over 30% of American adults owned a tablet (with Apple dominating just over half the market share). On Christmas, we saw those tablets getting some good use -- 10% of traffic was generated by web apps, 90% by mobile -- with 25% of all data coming from tablets. This is a pretty remarkable jump from Thanksgiving, which showed only 15% of activity coming from tablets.

Of all tablet use, 79% of tablets were iPads, up from iOS dominating 74% of tablet activity on Thanksgiving this year. This is a subtle but clear shift toward iOS over the last month, further buttressing Cook's assertion.

Of people using iOS devices, 31% of data was generated from iPads -- a notable spike from Thanksgiving Day this year, when only 19% of iOS traffic came from the iPad.

As mentioned above, games were a popular go-to on Christmas Day. Of gamers on iOS devices, 39% were playing on iPads. This is an impressive gain from Thanksgiving: just under one month ago, only 25% of iOS gaming activity came from iPads.

Zooming in on mobile activity, we saw that 73% of all Christmas Day activity came from iOS devices, and 27% came from Android; iOS went up 3% from Thanksgiving, when Android held 29% of activity, and iOS generated 71% of activity.

Top iOS Cities:

  1. New York

  2. Chicago

  3. Los Angeles

  4. Brooklyn

  5. Houston

Top Android Cities:

  1. Los Angeles

  2. Chicago

  3. Tampa

  4. Houston

  5. Brooklyn

Stocking-stuffer sidenote

Surprisingly, Mountain View, CA, which is home to Google's HQ, is a solidly iOS city: 81% of activity in Mountain View over the last month came from iOS devices, while only 19% was Android-generated. By contrast, activity in Apple's own home base, Cupertino, CA is solidly loyal to their own devices. A full 97% of activity came from iOS devices.



All told, Christmas 2013 was a mobile, iOS-dominated holiday, with more people relying on their tablets to play, share, document, and work.