Smartphone research comparing iPhone and BlackBerry often flawed



The research behind iPhone and BlackBerry comparisons that is making its way into the mainstream media is almost always flawed. The media loves to talk about the prolific nature of the iPhone and how technologically advanced its users are, while almost implicitly ragging on BlackBerry.

A recent study claims that iPhone owners are much more likely to download apps and get involved with social networking than their BlackBerry-owning counterparts.

The study shows that about 72% of iPhone users are likely to have downloaded at least 10 third-party apps, but 73% of BlackBerry users have picked up five apps or less. The researchers add that iPhone owners are more willing to buy their apps than BlackBerry owners.

When it comes to downloading third party apps, this study failed to recognize that bulk apps, shouldn’t be recognized as multiple applications. They are essentially the same app, templated and replicated by changing a few small pieces of data. This is where RIM shines in that App World isn’t filled with the same amount of useless garbage.

With regards to social networking, the researchers found that roughly 71% of Apple users have a Facebook account versus 44% of BlackBerry users. Twitter follows a similar trend with 26% for iPhone versus 15% for BlackBerry.

Social networking discrepancies is a demographics issue, not a device issue as the research implies. While BlackBerry is moving its focus to the consumer market, it still has years of enterprise users behind it and this could be skewing the numbers. In the end, we all know that the BlackBerry is an incredibly powerful social networking tool. Whether or not the older BlackBerry demographic is using these services is another matter.

One element of the research that I find particularly flawed, is the research that says 83 percent of users prefer apps that cost below $5. This is a consistent mistake that researchers make. They think that just because you have asked someone what they want to pay for something, that that information is somehow valuable. The truth is that everyone wants to pay the minimum, and if possible, get it for free. The reality of the situation is that if your app is well designed and provides a tangible benefit to the user, the $5 benchmark is meaningless. Just look at TetherBerry, it’s a $50 application that is one of Mobihand’s best sellers.

12 Responses to “Smartphone research comparing iPhone and BlackBerry often flawed”

  1. 1 NJM

    “Social networking discrepancies is a demographics issue.” Duh! This is exactly what “mainstream media” is talking about when they say that iPhone users (one demographic) are more technologically advanced and more likely to use social networking on their phones than BlackBerry users (another demographic). It’s a demographic comparison, so to refute it by accusing it of being what it presents itself as is nonsensical. Obviously it’s a stereotype, but iPhone users ARE generally more technologically advanced, at least in terms of early adoption of technology. The average iPhone user spends $80 on apps - I can almost guarantee that number is FAR lower for BlackBerry users. It’s not a good or bad thing, it just is what it is. I still wouldn’t trade my Berry (cracked screen and all) for an iPhone in a million years!

  2. 2 Ben

    Figures lie and liars figure, compare the Blackberry to the iPhone this way the BlackBerry is a Rolls Royce and the iPhone is a Chevrolet, both are cars and will serve you well if you care for them, one is just a much nicer car.

  3. 3 Ben

    Figures lie and liars figure, compare the Blackberry to the iPhone this way the BlackBerry is a Rolls Royce and the iPhone is a Chevrolet, both are cars and will serve you well if you care for them, one is just a much nicer car.

  4. 4 Ben

    Figures lie and liars figure, compare the Blackberry to the iPhone this way the BlackBerry is a Rolls Royce and the iPhone is a Chevrolet, both are cars and will serve you well if you care for them, one is just a much nicer car.

  5. 5 Jim

    I agree that many of these studies are skewed one way or another. For example the figures used to promote the curve as the number 1 selling smartphone (over the iPhone 3Gs). ‘Curve’ was broadly defined as 5 distinct devices (including the completely different 8900), and compared against only the iPhone 3Gs (one device, which was not bundled with the 3G - which is contradictory considering the curve was bundled with all of its incarnations).

    Having said all that everybody has different requirements, and will choose a device to suit, so I don’t think it is fair to say that one device is any any ‘better’ than another. BlackBerries do some things really well, and iPhones do other things really well, and it is up to the user to decide which is ‘better’ for their needs.

  6. 6 BlackBerryCool (BlackBerry Cool)

    Smartphone research comparing iPhone and BlackBerry often flawed

  7. 7 DavidB

    If the number of iPhone users was roughly comparable to the number of BlackBerry users, above chart might be meaningful. But since it isn’t, such a chart is meaningless.

  8. 8 Marco

    interesting about this whole topic could be another point of view: is it true, that a device which is easier to use because of a good interface design is technologically more challenging, than one designed in a different/ not as user friendly manner?

    the same comparison applies in the neverending win/osx comparison, where you cannot automagically assume, an early adopter is a more technology savvy person. usually a pro user of blackberry or windows might be more savvy as they can overcome the restrictions brought by bad system design. dont get me wrong, i develop for osx and iphone, android, etc. but i guess this might be a valid point of view, too, rendering these social hullaballoo comparisons meaningless.

    never believe a comparison you didn’t fake yourself ;)

  9. 9 erasure25

    Often times, “researchers” already have a conclusion in mind that they want to reach. Then they tailor their “study” to reach that conclusion and validate their pre-cognitive abilities. Or they just make up data.

    Often times, these people designing these “surveys” have no training in the sciences and have no idea what confounding variables are. They also have no idea how to interpret results and do not even consider asking a control question to establish a baseline.

  10. 10 Oleg Kiorsak

    Most of Blackberries are found in Enterprise/Corporate settings
    where they are often very much LOCKED-DOWN so user just can NOT
    install and run even RIM-made apps for “social networks” etc

    whereas iPhones are mostly personal and therefore not locked-down…
    besides iPhones has a decent browser so one can engage with social networking just via their respective web sites…

    so the results of the study seem real and reflecting the above facts…

  1. 1 BlackBerry Cool: Research Comparing iPhone and BlackBerry Often Flawed | Mobile Strategy
  2. 2 BlackBerry

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