Mixpanel Trends: What’s really happening with iOS in China?

alt text After months of anticipatory rumors and speculation, the iPhone finally launched on China Mobile this past January, and reception has been mixed. When Tim Cook announced at the end of February that both the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5c had outsold all earlier iPhone models, we thought this deserved some interrogation, especially when it came to China. China is a huge opportunity for Apple – provided everyone plays their cards right. We dug into iOS data coming out of China to get to the bottom of some key observations.

alt text First and foremost, location is everything: about one third of the data comes from people on the country’s Eastern coast, and it’s clear that activity increases with proximity to major metropolitan areas. There’s also an extremely long tail of Chinese cities where iOS devices are used -- 40% of our data is generated by people in 783 cities. The concentration of data in major cities is likely most correlated to income, but may also be linked to Apple and China Mobile’s strategy for 4G: the 4G network is slowly being rolled out across the country, starting with urban areas. It’s already accessible to people living in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Chongqing, who may have more incentive to move over to iOS. Chongqing is notably absent from the list of top iOS-generative cities. There are a few reasons why this may be the case: this is probably a geo-locational issue with our IP lookup database. Because Chongqing is so close to other major metropolitan areas, users may be identified as belonging to neighboring cities and regions.

Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou are frontrunners in iOS activity; 4G accessibility may play into this, but it’s more likely due to the fact that these cities are the commercial, financial, and manufacturing centers of mainland China. The people living in and around these cities are wealthier than most and more likely to purchase high-end technology (for both utilitarian and status purposes) than their counterparts in smaller cities, towns, and rural areas.

alt text On a regional level, Guangdong sticks out as one of the most prominent and active areas for iOS users. Guangdong contains both Guangzhou and Shenzhen; the region is one of the most prosperous in China, with a robust manufacturing industry. The area is the closest region to Hong Kong, a city with a ton of money, high-tech, and many foreigners.Shenzhen is also home to Foxconn, an electronics manufacturing company that makes many of Apple’s mobile devices. While Foxconn employs somewhere around 500,000 people, many of whom live on-site at the factory, it’s hard to say whether this is the same population that’s generating iOS data. But it seems safe to assume that Foxconn’s presence can only serve to raise awareness of Apple and its latest offerings within Shenzhen as a whole.

Notably minor on the list of iOS-generative regions is Tianjin, which has the greatest GDP per capita in China but only sends about 2.5% of China’s iOS data. This may be more reflective of its modest population than purchasing power or interest in iOS devices; Tianjin has only about 13 million residents, which is close to 1/8 the population of Guangdong and less than half the population of Shanghai or Beijing.

That said, population and data usage don’t always correlate. Shanghai and Beijing are almost equal in population and have nearly parallel PPP – logically, their iOS usage is also neck-and-neck. About three times as many people live in Guangdong than do in Beijing or Shanghai, and the region’s iOS usage is comparable. This may be due to the fact that Guangdong is a less wealthy city, with GDP per person about 60% of what it is in Beijing or Shanghai (to say nothing of Tianjin).

alt text When it comes to the iOS devices themselves, people in China primarily use older iPhone models, with the iPhone 5 taking up significant real estate at 19%. All of the iPhones represented above are CDMA/GSM models, and are specific to a small number of networks within China; China-CDMA phones are usually not functional outside of their origin country. Despite the China Mobile release and marketing efforts for the newest iPhone models (more on that momentarily), preferences clearly lean toward older models such as the iPhone 4S (2011) and iPhone 5 (2012). There’s also a long tail of devices running iOS that don’t fall into the above categories; 22% of iOS data is generated by 25 different types of devices, none of which are represented in the chart above.

alt text When the iPhone 5s and 5c were released in December 2013, there was a jump in China’s iOS usage, but the devices pushing that increase weren’t the usual suspects. Even when Apple had a huge marketing campaign for the 5c and 5s, the greatest growth actually came from the older iPhone 5 -- which of course became cheaper as soon as the newer models came on the market. A similar trend was seen around the January China Mobile release: volume grew, but the devices driving the data spike still weren’t the 5s or the 5c. People still were drawn to the newly-cheapened iPhone 5, which drove most of the growth seen around that time. One notable area of growth was in iPad usage: this does suggest that when Apple calls attention to itself, people pay attention – interest in (and usage of) Apple products grows, even if that doesn’t translate directly into sales.

So what does this mean for the future of iOS in China? What’s clear is that extra awareness in the marketplace begets returns: this was seen during both the iPhone 5s/5c release, and during China Mobile’s rollout. Though Chinese consumers didn’t show an immediate interest in Apple’s latest iPhone models, interest in Apple devices overall did seem to grow with each new release. It will be fascinating to watch iOS activity in China as 2014 continues, and to see whether iOS usage increases as 4G becomes more widely available. We predict that the release of the iPhone 6 -- rumored to be shortly on its way -- will catalyze sales of the models it’s intended to replace, further growing Apple’s Chinese customer base.

A/B testing comes to Android

So you've got an idea. "We have all these awesome features most users just haven’t tried yet. I bet more people would use them if they couldn't skip the tutorial. " "I know more people would create an account if our button just said 'Get Started'." "Our game's too easy. People want a challenge. If it were a bit faster, it would keep users coming back." Great, but a good idea alone isn’t gonna cut it. Especially when opinions differ. What you really need is cold, hard data. You need to put that hypothesis to the test and see how it fares with real users in the real world. That's where A/B testing comes in. Previously, you've been able to use Mixpanel to experiment and improve your iOS app. And we've seen how useful it has been to our customers. Today, we're expanding Mixpanel A/B Testing to Android. All the capabilities that enable you to experiment and improve your iOS a...

Community Tip: Benefits & Best Practices for Cross-platform Apps

In this Community Tip, we highlight the benefits and best practices for accommodating all of your varied products, environments, and platforms under a single Mixpanel project. Using this guide, your team can decide how to best track your cross-platform app data within Mixpanel. If you're one of the many users working with cross-platform apps, you may have wondered whether it's best to combine everything into one Mixpanel project or split everything up and analyze it separately. We've found that creating separate Development and Production projects to avoid cluttering your Production data is a great best practice, but the question of what to do with cross-platform Production apps is a matter of preference. The good news: Mixpanel is flexible enough to handle cross-platform scenarios in any configuration you'd like to implement. The choice is yours, and each approach comes with its...

Introducing Codeless Mobile Analytics

Tracking how users are interacting with your app just got easier. Now you can get Mixpanel's advanced mobile analytics without writing a line of code. Let's face it, everyone's dealing with limited developer resources. If you've got to add a tracking request to the growing queue of dev needs, it'll probably take some time. With Codeless Mobile Analytics , you can focus your development time on what matters - making your app better. With a simple point and click setup, Codeless makes tracking events a breeze. Want to know if people are using a new feature? Skipping that tutorial? Changing a setting? After you've installed the Mixpanel SDK you can just fire up Codeless Mobile Analytics (it's that icon on the bottom of your sidebar). Select your platform - iOS or Android. Then connect to your app using either a phone or an emulator. That's it. From right there in your bro...

How Cozi got a 38% increase in signup completion

Tara Pugh, product owner of Cozi, stopped by our June Office Hours to explain the process for improving their UX through many small, data-driven steps. Cozi helps bring order to the chaos of modern family life with an app that gets the entire family on the same page with shared calendars, to-do lists, and shopping lists. Digging into their conversion funnel data with Mixpanel, they identified opportunities to improve user experience by streamlining the account creation flow. Testing hypothesis after hypothesis, Tara and the team at Cozi were able to incorporate bits of learning into the flow: lighter background, different calls to action, pre-populating name and email forms. No single change resulted in a huge increase in conversions, but all together, the improvements raised the signup completion rate from 55% to 76%—a 38% increase. Check out Tara's talk for all th...

Join us for Office Hours with Vandan Parikh (Product @ Capital One) & learn how to translate data into actions

Come join us for Office Hours in San Francisco where Vandan Parikh, Director of Product Management at Capital One, will take us through: Getting from information to action — Wednesday, July 29, 2015 What it's about Whether you are a product manager, growth hacker, data scientist, marketer, engineer, or founder, your role increasingly relies on turning data into action. The capacity to make this transformation consistently will determine the success of your team, product, and ultimately, your company. Vandan Parikh, Director of Product Management at Capital One and formerly Product Lead for Flickr at Yahoo, has developed tactics and strategies to create data-driven action and incredible success. Don't miss Mixpanel's Office Hours on July 29th when Vandan will detail the goals, principles, and environments necessary for you to bring actionable analytics into your company su...

AARRR! for People: Using Mixpanel Notifications to Grow your Business

This Community Tip will describe how to utilize Mixpanel notifications to engage users according to the AARRR analytics framework . By sending targeted notifications throughout the customer lifecycle, you can independently increase acquisitions, activations, retention, revenue, and referrals. Mixpanel Notifications are powerful tools for engaging with your user base. Through targeted push, email, SMS, and in-app messages, you can deliver effective calls to action to targeted groups of users. To determine who receives what call to action, Mixpanel uses targeting based off of people properties . There’s nothing worse than having a great call to action, but not having the right people properties to target the right group of users. This post will cover all of the tips and tricks you need to create effective campaigns throughout your user's lifecycle with Mixpanel notifications. We...

Community Tip: How to keep properties consistent across client and server libraries

To unlock the full power of Mixpanel reporting when using multiple integration libraries, super properties should be maintained across each Mixpanel library. In this Community Tip we discuss how to pass data from the client-side to your server for custom super properties and Mixpanel's default client-side properties. Passing custom super properties As a refresher, super properties are client-side properties that are automatically attached to every event that a user sends to your Mixpanel project. Super properties make working with Mixpanel data much more convenient because you can create custom global properties that are omnipresent on all of your events. These super properties will be attached to each and every event provided the memory location (cookies in a browser, device memory in a mobile phone) of the super properties is not cleared. However, since custom super properties ...

Now you can hide events and properties

Keep stale event and property names out of your dropdowns. Mixpanel has long offered you the ability to hide events that you've decided are irrelevant or maybe just were typos from the very beginning. We’ve recently extended this functionality to let you also clean up the list of properties that you see when segmenting reports or creating custom events. Say your application tracked an an event called "ate" with integer property called "tomatos". Later you decided to fix the pluralization of this property name and renamed it "tomatoes". Even though you stopped sending events with the "tomatos" property, you'd still see entries for both “tomatos” and “tomatoes” in the dropdown list of properties on your segmentation report. By marking the property name "tomatos" as hidden , you can keep it from showing up in this dropdown and any other dropdown that lists properties. How to h...

XO Group democratizes data to build a better product

XO Group Inc., parent company of The Knot, The Nest, and The Bump, democratizes data across their data science, product, and marketing teams to build a better product. Planning a wedding, cohabiting with your significant other, or expecting a newborn? If so, chances are you’ve already discovered XO Group. With The Knot , The Nest , and The Bump , XO Group brands help make these important lifetime milestones stress-free and enjoyable. XO Group has always emphasized the importance of analytics to ensure their apps continually provide the best user experience. As a leading lifestyle brand, XO Group has a very savvy development team, but this did not necessarily make choosing an analytics strategy an easier decision. As XO Group grew, they found clunky commerce focused analytics tools were not agile enough to provide instant insight to the team. As XO Group continuously expa...