January 2, 2014, 4:52 PM

On Christmas, Apple iOS drives five times more sales than Android

What’s more, the average order value for shoppers on iPhones and iPads on Dec. 25, 2013, was $93.94 compared with $48.10 for shoppers on Android smartphones and tablets, IBM finds. Demographics are key, one mobile commerce expert says.

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Web sales on Christmas Day 2013 reinforced a major trend in Internet retailing: Consumers who shop on Apple Inc. iPhones and iPads are the driving force behind mobile commerce.

Devices running Apple iOS accounted for more than five times the online sales on Christmas Day of sales on devices running Google Inc.’s Android, finds IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark. Sales on iOS devices reached 23.0% of total web sales on Dec. 25, 2013, compared with only 4.6% on Android smartphones and tablets, IBM reports. Apple devices also led over Android devices in mobile traffic, 32.6% versus 14.8%, and mobile average order value, $93.94 versus $48.10, IBM says.

There are a variety of reasons why Apple iOS device owners are more valuable to retailers than Android device users. For example, while Android has a big lead in smartphone market share over iPhones (52.2% for Android, 40.6% for iPhones, finds comScore Inc.), iPads hold a commanding lead over all comers in the tablet market (iPads generate 76% of tablet traffic, finds web and mobile analytics firm Chitika), and mobile buying is much bigger on tablets. Smartphones drove 28.5% of all online traffic on Christmas compared with tablets at 18.1%, making smartphones the browsing device of choice, IBM says. When it comes to making the sale, tablets drove 19.4% of all online sales, more than twice that of smartphones, which accounted for 9.3%, IBM says. Tablet users also averaged $95.61 per order versus smartphone users at $85.11.

Another reason why Apple iOS device owners are more valuable shoppers is because most consumers who buy Apple mobile devices are paying a premium price for a premium device to do many wireless data-intensive activities, shifting their web habits from desktop to mobile, while many Android users pay very low prices—or are given Android smartphones for free as part of a deal—simply to obtain a new replacement phone without much focus on Internet connectivity, mobile experts say.

“The only mobile users that really materially matter for needle-moving commerce impact are those who are actively engaged with their mobile devices and have a high level of comfort with using the devices for things like apps, web browsing and making purchases,” says Dave Lawson, director of mobile and digital unification at web and mobile marketing firm Knotice. “Apple’s devices yesterday and today are more expensive than default options like Android devices. That in itself pre-qualifies an audience to be able to spend. Combine that with the comfort level iOS tablet and smartphone users have with their devices and the relative security iOS devices promise and you have people with more money, who spend more time in apps and on the mobile web, who feel more comfortable with transacting on these devices, and you have a recipe for a smaller percent of owners driving the highest percent of revenue. Put another way, the sheer number of Android installations gives the mobile operating system the market share that is impressive, but how those people use those devices on the whole is markedly different than those who intentionally seek out the Apple iOS ecosystem.”

And the demographics of iOS users are much more favorable to commerce and shopping in general, says Jeffrey R. Hennion, president of m-commerce technology vendor Branding Brand. He says about 80% of the company’s retailer clients’ mobile sales come from iOS devices.

“Apple users are more likely to use their smartphones as portable research devices and shopping tools as opposed to primarily just a phone,” Hennion says. “Also, the proliferation of apps in the iOS world touching every possible interaction of shopping, including in-store, drives the share of mobile commerce coming from iPhones much higher. The same holds true in the tablet world.”

Overall, mobile devices accounted for 48% of all online traffic and 29% of all online sales during the 2013 holiday season, IBM finds.

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