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.

Gett uses Mixpanel to optimize experiences, focus outreach, and encourage action

Gett is revolutionizing the taxi experience for both consumers and drivers by reducing the time to value of getting a taxi or black car. Gett uses Mixpanel’s event based Engagement Analytics and actionable People Analytics to help make product decisions and reach their customers on both their iOS and Android apps. The app is already up and running in 32 cities globally including New York, London, Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv. In peeling back multiple layers of this Mixpanel Customer Story, we spoke with Gett's Anatoly Volovik, Product Manager, and Libby Alpert, Global Marketing Operations, about their experiences using Mixpanel. Areas of focus include features such as 1) Funnels 2) Retention 3) A/B Testing and 4) Notifications. What we quickly realized was that not only are they using these Mixpanel features, but they ...

Community Tip: Use Property Types to Turbocharge Reports

This Community Tip includes three ways to leverage property data types to turbocharge your filtering, segmentation, and cohortizing power across Mixpanel reports. Events are the atomic units of Mixpanel analytics. The true power of Mixpanel’s reporting, however, comes from properties. Any detail of an user’s action (like an adverb) or a fact of about a user (like an adjective) can be provided as a property. There are three high level kinds of properties: event properties, event super properties , and People properties . You can understand the differences between these three by reading the Community Tips dedicated to each. This Community Tip will focus on the best ways of using the different property data types. Properties are incredibly powerful because they enable you to slice and dice, filter and segment, or roll-up and divide your data to get actionable insights. People prope...

How Outplay Uses Mixpanel to Build Successful Games

Outplay is an innovative, mobile and social game developer with a mission to create fun games of the highest quality across a wide range of platforms. Outplay decided to use Mixpanel instead of building their own analytics stack because Mixpanel empowers teams to leverage data to understand users and make decisions. As a result, Outplay overcomes competition with successful games that people love. Build or buy Outplay has always known the importance data has in creating awesome games. Though it has always been a high priority, Outplay did not rush into just any analytics solution, but decided to begin the search for a long term, strategic analytics partner. Outplay tried other analytics solutions, but was frustrated at how overly prescriptive these products were: telling them what to track instead of empowering Outplay's teams to track what mattered. When Outplay found Mixp...

Community Tip: Last Touch UTM Tags

This Community Tip describes how to tie users' most recent UTM tags (aka last touch attribution) to their actions. We will detail why it's useful, provide code for developers in JavaScript, and show the power in Mixpanel's reporting. Why track last touch UTM tags? Last touch attribution allows you to see how a user found your site most recently. You can utilize last touch UTM properties to measure the effectiveness of various marketing campaigns through Mixpanel's Segmentation report. You could also leverage Mixpanel's a Funnel report to determine if specific campaigns impacted conversions. If a user eventually ends up making a purchase or completing some other event of consequence you can use last touch UTM tags to determine what acquisition channel brought them to the site most recently. First touch UTM tags are automatically tracked by Mixpanel's JavaScript Library and sto...

Community Tip: JavaScript Implementation Roundup

This Community Tip will walk you through implementing Mixpanel using the JavaScript library. This walkthrough will cover not just how to insert Mixpanel code into your website, but also how to decide what events and properties to track. Get acquainted with Mixpanel You heard from your developer friends that Mixpanel is awesome, and you want to see it for yourself. But where to begin? A great place is our Live Introductory Webinar . The Webinar is specially aimed toward new Mixpanel users and it broadly covers Mixpanel’s capabilities, how to think about your analytics, and how to get started with your own data tracking. Plan your implementation: It starts and ends with your business goals Mixpanel is a highly customizable data-tracking solution that gives you the power to decide what actions to track and how to track them. With flexibility and power comes great responsibility, ...

Community Tip: Setting up Deep Linking in iOS and Android

This Community Tip will walk developers through mobile deep linking via Mixpanel’s In App Notifications. For both iOS and Android mobile, we will describe the code changes and describe how to include deep links with Mixpanel notifications. Why are deep links useful? Deep links create an experience that links users directly to the content they desire. In today's mobile ecosystem, moving between applications or within applications can be friction-filled and lead to low conversions. For example, when sending a notification to have your users try a new feature, a deep link can point users precisely to the relevant view. Creating a flexible deep link architecture in your application and using tools like Mixpanel’s People Notifications allows your mobile team to drive user engagement to precise locations quickly and effectively. In the next sections, we'll take you through the steps to...

Community Tip: Codeless Event Tracking for iOS & Android

This Community Tip will walk you through setting up Mixpanel’s codeless event tracking. This is the quickest and easiest way to get started tracking events in your iOS or Android mobile app. If your app already has the Mixpanel SDK installed, you will be able to start tracking events immediately, without re-submitting to the app store! The screenshots below are iOS but everything discussed here will apply to both iOS and Android. As long as you have the Mixpanel SDK installed in your app and it's being properly initialized, you're ready to go. If you need a reminder on how to initialize the library, here are the steps for iOS and Android . Getting connected The first thing to do is launch your app in the simulator or on a device. For demonstration purposes, I'll be using my awesome trivia app, Trvl (pronounced “Trivial”). Once it's open, navigate to your Mixpanel project and c...

Community Tip: Integrating Google AdWords with Mixpanel

This Community Tip will take you step-by-step through the process used to push Google AdWords campaign information to Mixpanel. This tutorial will ensure your campaign settings in Google are configured correctly. After setting up your campaigns, Mixpanel's JavaScript SDK will do the rest. This tutorial is broken into two parts. The first walks through the necessary settings in your Google AdWords dashboard. If you're using Mixpanel's JavaScript library, great news! No additional set up or coding is required for ad information to propagate into Mixpanel. If you're driving traffic to a mobile app, you'll want to read about mobile attribution with Mixpanel . The latter sections detail an optional and more advanced step-by-step guide that takes you through the process of setting up UTM-tags in parallel with autotagging (typical only for those using both Mixpanel and Google Analytics in ...

Community Tip: People Properties Best Practices

This Community Tip is geared for anyone interested in using Mixpanel’s People Analytics or seasoned users interested in tweaking their implementations. We'll help answer the question: What types of data should we be storing in People Profiles? People Analytics allow you to send highly targeted messages to your users People Analytics allows you to send targeted messages to your users by leveraging the People properties stored within each profile. When setting People Properties, you have five options of data to include: String, Numeric, Boolean, Date, and List type. For more on how to properly send these types to Mixpanel, check out this article! Each of these data types allows us to create differently targeted campaigns. Sometimes the differences in the properties can be subtle. For example, let's say you want to email your users after they sign up for a paid plan. 1) ...