As we close the books on another epic Cyber Monday, the holiday shopping season is officially in full swing.
Yesterday marked the “Super Bowl Sunday” of online shopping and the second salvo in the madness that is the post-Thanksgiving shopping season: Cyber Monday. Yesterday alone, 131 million Americans spent as much as $2 billion amid some of the heaviest discounting of the retail year.
One of the most powerful trends we've seen this holiday season has been the growing influence mobile devices have over the retail world.
And recently when it comes to mobile devices, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG ) has dominated Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) in terms of its overall share of the smartphone and tablet markets. However, as we saw from one high-profile report, Apple still blows Google out of the water when it comes to many aspects of our online lives.
Mobile takes off
One of the best reports dissecting where and how consumers shopped on Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday comes from International Business Machines. Using a host of its analytics tools, IBM broke down exactly how consumers shopped online on these big ticket retail days, making it a go-to source of insight into the trends driving consumer behavior today.
And that's extremely important this year as Cyber Monday set new records in nearly every regard.
Although there were plenty of interesting factoids in the report, perhaps the single most important trend was growing power of mobile devices in driving retail sales. According to IBM, mobile traffic surged 34% on Black Friday and 45% on Cyber Monday compared to 2012. Over the marquee shopping days, traffic from mobile devices reached as high as 40% of all online traffic. In our increasingly on-the-go lives, it's clear that mobile devices are quickly becoming consumer favorites for more than just texting.
However, the report also highlighted the key distinction that not all mobile traffic is created equal. And when viewed more closely, the report paints Apple's iOS as the dominant ecosystem for retailers.
Apple's iOS > Google's Android
Google's Android mobile OS is today the global standard for both smartphones and tablets. However, the scale tips decidedly in Apple's favor in terms of the value an ecosystem generates for online shoppers.
According to the report, Apple iOS devices comprised a greater share of total online traffic on Black Friday, rising to 28% for Apple, versus just 11% for Android. Perhaps more importantly, Apple iOS accounted for 18% of all online sales, versus just 4% for Google's Android. Furthermore, Apple iOS users spent substantially more than the average Android user on Black Friday. Over Thanksgiving and Black Friday, Apple users averaged $127.92 per order, versus just $105.20 on average per Google Android user.
IBM's report reiterated once again what has been known for some time, Apple users tend to be more valuable users, even if there are fewer of them
What this matters for Apple and Google
This dynamic is just the latest in the long history of how Apple's iOS users tend to be vastly more valuable than Android users. On the whole, Apple users tend to significantly outspend their Android peers. In fact, one recent study found that Apple's App Store tends to generate 5x the download revenue compared to Google Play.
And this matters immensely when it comes to things that impact the overall richness of an ecosystem, like developer support. We've seen time and again how developer interest can have a massive impact on a mobile ecosystem's adoption. Lack developer attention certainly served as a major headwind for adoption of both BlackBerry's and Microsoft's mobile operating systems.
These numbers are by no means secret, and retailers, as with virtually every other area of online commerce, tend to dedicate their resources to the ecosystem that generates the greatest pay off for them.
As IBM demonstrated once again, Apple's iOS still holds at least one key advantage over Google's Android.
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