A new report from boingo about use of Airport Wifi is getting a fair amount of publicity. It seems to show that mobile devices have overtaken laptops and that iPhone use is well ahead of Android. But I don’t entirely trust the data, which I think may overstate mobile use (here’s the math), so I have left a comment with the authors.
Update on 23 September 2011: The following quote provides confirmation that the Boingo data is wrong and therefore mobile devices have not overtaken laptops.
Stripping out iPad and iPod from iOS, the above means that iPhone and Android useage will be roughly equal. So Boingo’s data showing iPhone with 4x the useage of Android (rightmost chart below) must be wrong. The must likely reason is that they are over-estimating traffic due to checking emails. I would expect an 8x over-estimate with email traffic alone; the actual over-estimate is half that, at 4x; so it suggests that airport/plane traffic is 50% email. Long story short: mobile traffic and especially iOS traffic is being over-counted because of how the iOS email client loads images - in reality laptops still lead.
Update on 26 September 2011: Alternative figures for Wifi use, via MarketingCharts, showing Android ahead: “connected device impressions on the Millennial Media mobile network, according to the August 2011 Millennial Media Mobile Mix.” This casts further doubt on the analysis from Boingo.
Here’s the original post…
If my suspicions are correct, the following charts are misleading. In terms of real use, laptops are still well ahead of mobile, and iPhone is only slightly ahead of Android.
“Please could you clarify an issue for me. What exactly are you measuring when you talk about connections or devices?
If boingo is talking about all connections, iOS use will likely be over-represented compared to Android. But if boingo is talking about unique connections (ie the number of different devices that connect) then that would not be an issue.
(1) When I check my email using iOS, images are enabled by default, so pictures are loaded over your network, leading to more connections and larger data volumes.
(2) But when I check my email, using GMail on Android (or email on my laptop), images are disabled by default, so less pictures are loaded over your network, leading to less connections and less data volumes.
Please could you confirm what the situation is. Is boingo reporting total connections/devices or unique connections/devices?”