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Mac Planet: A new year's numbers

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More people are using tablets, including the Apple iPad. Photo / NZ Herald
More people are using tablets, including the Apple iPad. Photo / NZ Herald

It's interesting to collate some numbers from late in 2012, and see where they might take us in 2013, as far as Apple is concerned.

Let's start with iPhones - smartphones are popular with pretty much every demographic, but Generation Y comprises the iPhone's biggest fan base. A new Forrester Research report notes that 29 per cent of Gen Y smartphone users (defined as 24 to 32 years of age) own Apple's smartphone.

Generation Z follows closely at 24 per cent and Gen X at 22%. iPhone adoption drops off pretty dramatically after that. The Younger Boomers come in at 11 per cent in the survey, Older Boomers at 9% and the Golden Generation at 6%.

Android smartphones figure too, of course, across these demographics. More iOS and Android devices are activated on Christmas Day than on any other day of the year; this last Christmas (2012) showed more iPhones, iPads, Galaxys, Kindle Fires et cetera, were activated than on any other day in history.

Developer service Flurry has more than 260,000 apps using its Flurry Analytics. Flurry reckons it can detect over 90% of all new iOS and Android devices activated daily. The company regularly triangulates its device coverage with publicly announced figures from Google and Apple.

Flurry established a baseline using the average from the first 20 days of December. Over this period, daily activations averaged around 4 million per day, with variance of a few hundred thousand in either direction per day. On Christmas Day, activations soared to more than 17.4 million, a 332% increase. Christmas Day 2011 held the previous single-day record: 6.8 million device activations. Christmas 2012 is more than 2.5 times larger than Christmas 2011, which surpassed its own baseline by more than 300%.

Flurry anticipates downloads to surpass more than 1.5 billion, and thinks it has a shot at breaking the 2-billion download barrier for the first time.

The Dutch company Distimo, though, tracks app activations in many countries, including New Zealand, to deliver 'actionable insights' to developers. It found that iPhone app sales and downloads spiked 87 per cent above the average for December, but that spike was well below its last recorded spike of 230 per cent at the same time last year.

Distimo found that iPad downloads and app revenues rose 140% and 83% respectively.

Forrester Research in the US concurs about the general rise of tablets. The company's annual State of Consumers and Technology report found that 84% of US adults now use the internet daily and 50% own smartphones. For tablets, 19 per cent of consumers in the US now own at least one, roughly double the figure for the end of 2011.

This data (for consumers in the US and Canada) is not available for individual purchase, but was paraphrased by TechCrunch.

Microsoft is still up against it with the Surface, though. Orders were reportedly cut in half following a slow launch. Boston-based brokerage firm Detwiler Fenton estimates Microsoft will have sold less than a million Surface tablets in the slate's debut quarter.

California-based Net Applications measures operating system and browser adoption rates by checking stats from visitors to about 40,000 Web sites and has found that Mac users are serial upgraders. Apple's OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard), 10.7 (Lion) and 10.8 (Mountain Lion) have been adopted by Mac users at a rate about three times that of Windows 7, Microsoft's best-selling version of Windows so far, although of course the general numbers of Windows 7 computers far outstrips numbers of machines running Mac OS X.

Snow Leopard was installed on 32 per cent of all Macs within five months of its launch, and the Lion and Mountain Lion were at 29 per cent after five months. With Windows 7, only 11 per cent of all Windows users had upgraded after five months. Windows Vista saw only a 5 per cent adoption rate after five months. Apple OS upgrading seems to be popular due to low price and ease, via the online Mac App Store. OS X being available in just one version in each iteration also makes upgrading pretty much a no-brainer.

You would imagine Apple would be happy at all this, especially at the management and board level. Yet employee satisfaction at Apple has dropped from 15th place to 42nd according to job search outlet CareerBliss. Apple was at 15th on the 2012 list but the 2013 report sees Apple drop to 42. Google is at 18, and Intel at 20.

CareerBliss draws its figures from anonymously reported job satisfaction reports that anyone can submit. This unverified data gathering is not particularly reliable, but it might be significant that the reported average salary for Apple dropped in the past year from US$59,559 ($71,900) to US$57,269.

That hasn't held Apple CEO Tim Cook back, though. Cook's salary has just risen 50.8%, (to US$1.36 million) and his additional incentive payments more than tripled, to US$2.8 million, as Apple revealed in a filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). I think he needs the money for a new lounge suite.

And you thought NZ members of parliament were unconscionable. At least Cook can be seen as doing some good for his country.

A survey by Logmein released mid December found that nearly 70 per cent of small and medium businesses (SMBs) in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand reported active use of employee-introduced applications, aka Bring Your Own Apps or BYOA. These covered cloud sync and storage collaboration apps (52 per cent), and productivity and social (69 per cent) apps.

Thirty-nine per cent of productivity apps and 44 per cent of collaboration apps in use at SMBs were first introduced by employees; 26 per cent of both were officially endorsed by employers. This is the natural partner to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies.

Factors mitigating adoption were primarily security (67 per cent); 43 per cent cited lack of management control.

The survey includes findings from 1200+ SMBs. The New Zealand and Australian survey responses showed, says Logmein, that the workplace trends around the introduction and adoption of BYO apps closely mirror the results and trends for other regions surveyed.

Over a third of SMBs surveyed indicated the BYO trend will increase significantly over the next five years. Most SMB IT pros expect their policies to increasingly embrace and encourage the use of such apps over the next couple years.

So, what's the message? Small businesses will increasingly embrace and encourage BYOD and BYOA as smart devices become de rigueur across the population. I prtedict that Older Boomers and the rather more attractively denoted Golden Agers will really take to tablets in 2013. I have noticed the beginnings of this - tablets really suit older demographics, being more intuitive to use and much more portable. With a greater range available (across Android tablets as well as within Apple's range), there's more to choose from, and they're only going to be encouraged by younger family members.

Good-oh.

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