Twitter Map Visualizes Smartphone War
June 21, 2013

Interactive Twitter Map Provides Visuals On The Smartphone War

Michael Harper for – Your Universe Online

Big data can be used to communicate a number of things. Earlier this week, mapping company MapBox released an interactive globe built around mobile Twitter data. The map is pocked with colored dots that represent which mobile platform Tweets are sent from. In a blog post, MapBox CEO Eric Gunderson says this data shows the iPhone’s popularity in the wealthiest areas of the US.

The data also shows the current state of the smartphone wars, with BlackBerry almost nonexistent except in Indonesia and a handful of financial districts scattered around the world. Each platform on the interactive map is represented with its own color; Android is represented by green dots, iPhone with red dots, BlackBerry with purple dots and all others in a slightly different purple hue.

“The patterns of usage in each city often reflect economic stratification. For example iPhones, in red, are predominantly in wealthy sections of the city while Android phones, in green, have more coverage in poorer sections,” writes Gunderson in his June 19 blog post.

There are some important caveats to remember when reading this data, of course.

First, this information is built only around data supplied by Twitter since September 2011. Furthermore, dots only appear on the map if they meet a few requirements. The Tweets must first have location data attached to them, so those who Tweet without attaching this data are left out of the map. Furthermore, this data is only collected if the Tweet is sent from a mobile device.

The map does seem to backup the claim poorer areas are dominated with Androids while more affluent areas are controlled by iPhone. For instance, the Dallas area (University Park, Highland Park, Highland Village) feature a stronger saturation of iPhones than areas to the south, such as Lancaster and Oak Cliff. The same can be said of the different parts of the Bay Area; Berkeley, Silicon Valley and San Francisco are bright iPhone red and poorer areas like East Palo Alto and Vallejo shine Android green.

Taken another way, these maps can be used to understand the shift of power in the smartphone wars and Android’s rise in popularity thanks to devices like the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note tablets. Returning to the Dallas/Fort Worth area, while iPhones are certainly more prevalent in affluent areas, Android also has its fair share of presence here. When viewed from afar, one gets a better sense of where exactly BlackBerry’s still has its strongholds. The major metropolitan areas of the US are dominated by red and green splashes, but bright circles of purple show up in New York City, Los Angeles, and Toronto. The more populated areas in Mexico are nearly all purple, with Mexico City covered in a near equal mixture of purple and red. There’s a fair number of Androids as well, but these users seem to be intermingling with one another well and cover the same portions of the map. The same can be said for areas of the United Kingdom, specifically London.

Spain, on the other hand, has almost no iPhone presence, just as it is in BlackBerry-dominated Indonesia.