Views from Phanfare CEO and Co-founder Andrew Erlichson

Link Smartphone Adoption Among Phanfare Customers

In our recent customer survey, 67% of Phanfare customers reported carrying a smartphone, which we defined as a sophisticated cell phone with a required data plan, like a Blackberry or iPhone, that allows you to read email and surf the web from your phone.

That’s at least four times the world-wide average for smartphone adoption and points to Phanfare customers generally being better educated and having higher household incomes than the average consumer.

We asked Phanfare customers to tell us what type of smartphone they carry. The iPhone was more popular than the RIM Blackberry and Android devices combined, with 49% of Phanfare customers reporting they carry an iPhone. This does not even include the number of Phanfare customers who carry non-cellular iOS devices like the iPod Touch, or the iPad, which we excluded in our definition above.

Android and RIM Blackberry were tied at 20%. Palm WebOS (Pre) had a dismal 3%. Symbian barely registered at 1%, probably showing the US bias in our customer base.

Note that Windows Mobile is stuck in other. Windows Mobile deserves its own category but they have so little mindshare in our heads that when we created the survey, we forgot to add them as a named category!

Our intuition has been that the Phanfare demographic was the exact group of people who buy and like Apple’s high end products. This data would seem to confirm that, with the caveat that our bias toward supporting iOS might cause some self-selection in terms of who our customers are.

The iPhone is more than twice as popular as Android or RIM with the iPhone only available through AT&T in the US. Imagine what the statistics would be if there was a Verizon iPhone.

  • Brian Stringfellow

    Any predictions for this time next year? Here's mine.

    With an Android (tablet) app for Library Management:
    40% Android
    40% iOS
    10% RIM
    10% Win

    Without Android App
    30% Android
    50% iOS
    10% Rim
    10% Win

    With an Android app, 10% more paid accounts!!!!!

  • Raphael

    It would be interesting to see what the ratio is in a year or so when Windows phone 7 comes to market.

  • erlichson

    Well, this was a survey of our customers, so anyone taking the survey is our

    customer and hence has a paid account, whether they use Android or iOS.

  • erlichson

    I get a very zune-like feeling when I think about Windows Phone 7. They are

    a bit late to the party and seem to be chasing Apple's shadow. MS moved into

    music players just as Apple focused on smartphones, and then they started

    working on smartphones as Apple starting developing the tablet market. Seems

    to me that Google out-microsofted Microsoft in smartphones with their genius

    model of giving away the software and earning ad-splits to the carriers.

  • Brian Stringfellow

    I meant to say, with an Android app you will attract an extra 10% in the form of Android users.

  • Jason Halter

    Brian, while what you are saying may be potentially true, I have had an extensive conversation (via email) with Andrew and the decision has been made to support what they support. He didn't rule out other OS support “in the future” but he c…ould not tell me a time line for said future. He will also claim that there is a problem with Android being fragmented. While this was historically correct, most of the major devices are at 2.1 or 2.2. Those that aren't have either beeen pulled from the shelf or have a definitive EOL. So, I say develop for what's here today… 3 won't be out for a while.

    It is still amazing to me that a business model leave so many “other OS” users out in the cold. I get that iOS was here first and has a huge headstart on the others… But to totally ignore the other 51% of us is unbelieveable (My avitar is a joke… I get that iOS is good).

    Between my co-workers, family and close friends (~50 people fit this pool of mine), Android is leading the race with iOS in a very close second. I have/will not recommend Phanfare, although a fantastic service, they are unable to support their devices. If there were an app, I would turn into a great salesperson (for free). I'm not saying that everyone would jump on board, but the word of mouth is some of the best advertising any business should want.

    I wish I had more programming skills… Even an app that would allow me to upload (pictures and video) without stipping any meta data (read geo info). That would keep me content for a while.

    The full app would be great for us that have the newer devices with HDMI… what a great way to show photographs to grandma on her big @$$ TV when she has no PC nor internet…

  • Mitch

    You have to take in to account that the iPhone and iOS have been around for about four years now and Android has been around for about a year and a half now and has already taken 20% of your surveys market place. The iPhone is already saturated in the market place, look at the trend of where it is going, in the next year to year and a half Android could be neck and neck with iPhone or passing it in the market place.
    Apple cannot compete, it's hardware is already overtaken by the time it comes out and never mind the fact that it's iOS is only updated once a year, so the features you want now and get next year, what about that one cool feature they missed, don't worry it's only two years down the road.

  • Simon

    will there be feedback from the rest of the survey?

  • erlichson

    The issue is one of focus, pure and simple. Let's say we supported every smartphone OS, including Symbian and WebOS. With the resources we have to throw at the problem, we could create a very basic and arguably mediocre experience across all of these operating systems. For any one smartphone customer, we would almost certainly not be the best solution. We would be the best solution for somebody who carried every smartphone. Know a lot of those folks?

    Right now, we are working on supporting the most popular smartphone among the demographic of people that Phanfare serves. I don't feel like we are even half done in that effort.

    One of the things we have been guilty of over the years is biting off too much versus focusing down on one simple problem.

    There is no possible argument that there are not enough iOS users to support Phanfare's growth. Our penetration into iOS (or Android) users is far less than 1%.

    There is also no argument that we are not supporting the most popular smartphone among Phanfare customers.

    I would love to support Android and we will at the proper time, which is not today, plain and simple. Unlike many companies, we are pretty transparent. I am not going to say one thing and do another secretly.

    That transparency puts us at a slight competitive disadvantage since our competitors know where we are going. But it provides a predictable and reliable path for our customers and it is what I would want from my archival hosting solution.

    My advice would be to buy an iPad or iPod Touch to get the Phanfare mobile experience today. I know that's not a perfect solution.

    As you know, I have a Droid X that I use when traveling so we are not completely out of the loop on Android.

  • rblon

    I am using both Android (Nexus One) and iOS (iPhone 4) and my conclusion up to now is that (without wanting to start a flame war): apps on iOS are more user-friendly and more stable.
    However, this is not right away relevant for phanfare, as what matters is what their clients are (and will be) using. And it is clear that Android has (and will keep) a reasonable market share.
    Luckily both systems use a webkit browser. And it is great that the phanfare website now supports Android as well (for viewing).

  • Lwiren

    Do this survey 6 months after Big Red gets the I-phone and see what the numbers are then….lol

  • Lakeside4lease

    “Our bias toward supporting iOS might cause some self-selection in terms of who our customers are”
    Well written, Andrew. I, for one, am taking my business elsewhere, because your bias is pushing me out. I tried to show my family a slideshow in my big screen tv using the hdmi connection in my Andoid phone that DOES support flash, and instead got redirected to your /iphone/ site that doesn't. So I couldn't. Not only you lost an embarassed custumer, but lots of referrals from disappointed family members that were excited to see the slideshow I had promised them.

  • erlichson

    The number of flash enabled android devices is vanishingly small. And

    if flash actually worked in the device, our slideshows would play.

    In terms of tv integration, I think we are six months from having a

    good solution.

    Andrew Erlichson


    Phanfare, Inc.

    84 Nassau Street

    Princeton, NJ 08540


  • Heulenwolf

    Another factor potentially reducing your Android numbers is the fact that you are up against a free competitor – Picasaweb – with Android. Just like all the other Google Apps, my Picasaweb photos sync seamlessly with my Droid. All I did was sign in. Apple's alternative in mobileme is a similarly-priced paid service with known limitations.

    Given that Picasaweb was good enough for my needs initially, I didn't even look for an alternative such as Phanfare until a few days ago (I've had the phone for 8 months). In short, you might have more competition on Android. That being said, I'd still love to see a Phanfare app or at least a mobile site that doesn't claim its made for iphones. Now that Flash is rolling out on newer Android phones, you might have an easier time getting the slideshow going through a web app.

  • erlichson

    I am happy to report that our slideshows do play on my droid x running

    froyo. we will get a link to them in the web interface in the coming weeks.

    picasaweb downsamples, as you know. but yes, for many, it is good enough.

    seems like you are arguing against the logic of our doing an android

    version. long term, we want to be on android. we just need to find the

    resources internally to make it happen.

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