iPhone sales, Twitter and how tech has changed since 2007

Now that you know about Echo, we wanted to show you what, exactly, you can do with it. We’ll be sharing a series of stories told through Echo’s data and visualizations.  Feel free to ask us any questions you may have in the comments below, or find us on Twitter @UnionMetrics. You can learn more about Echo here


The Apple iPhone has been around almost as long as Twitter. Digging into how Twitter has talked about the iPhone over the past eight years can tell us a great deal about Apple, Twitter and tech culture.

The first iPhone was announced in January 2007, when Twitter was just a tiny network with around 20,000 users. The announcement generated 584 tweets on January 9, 2007. There were only 19 speculative tweets in the week leading up the announcement.

By the time the iPhone actually launched in late June, 2007, Twitter had many more users, as it had been a big hit at the SXSW festival in March of that year. That led to a 10x increase in tweet volume, seeing 6k tweets on release day. These tweets were more typical of later iPhone launches, as giddy new iPhone owners celebrated their new purchases.

This pattern was repeated for the next several iPhone cycles. For the first three years of the iPhone’s existence, excitement picked up in the weeks between the announcement and release dates, leading to more tweets on release day than on announcement day. People were just so excited to get and use their new phones that they couldn’t stop tweeting about it. In 2008, the release generated 45k tweets on launch day. In 2009, it was 205k tweets.

iPhone original, 3G, 4 and 5 courtesy of Yutaka Tsutano on Flickr; used with Creative Commons License.
iPhone original, 3G, 4 and 5 courtesy of Yutaka Tsutano on Flickr; used with Creative Commons License.

But starting in 2010 with the iPhone 4, the announcement itself became the event, generating more and more tweets every year. This is also the year that regular iPhone chatter on Twitter became significant and large. In 2010, nearly 100k new tweets were posted every day about the iPhone. By 2013, this number had grown to 650k daily iPhone tweets.

And then an interesting patterns emerges. Starting with the iPhone 5, the S models that are released in odd years don’t generate as much buzz on Twitter as their previous year’s counterpart. In fact, the 2013 5S and 2015 6S announcements actually generated fewer tweets than the 5 and 6, respectively. The S models don’t have a new body style, and they don’t generate the same levels of excitement as a brand new phone does.

Interestingly, general everyday conversation about iPhones has decreased in the past year or two. This is probably due to two things. First, so many people have iPhones now that many people don’t talk explicitly about their iPhones as much anymore. They may just call them “phones” or not tweet about them at all. They’re ubiquitous and second nature and there’s just not as much to say. 700 million iPhones have been sold around the world; they’re not exactly unique any more. Second, Android phones have become incredibly popular, so a number of people talking about smartphones on Twitter are talking about their Androids, not their iPhones. In fact, over the past 45 days, there have been more tweets about Androids than about iPhones: 550k daily Android tweets and 450k daily iPhone tweets.

iphone echo

For brands, this is a lesson in innovation and how important it is to continue to evolve your product to stay relevant to your customers. iPhones are still just as technologically advanced as they were in 2007 (way more so, probably), but they’re just not as new, not as noteworthy. Using Union Metrics Echo, Apple’s marketing team can look at the volumes and types of tweets about iPhones compared to tweets about Android to see what they’re missing. What are Android users tweeting about? What do they love or hate about their phones and how could Apple use that information to better market to that audience?

Beyond that, Echo is perfect for researching past annual events, like a recurring product launch, conference or sporting event. Use this information to find trends over time, including tweet volume changes (what does it mean if you see fewer tweets this year than last?), top tweets (what content gets retweeted each year?), and other insights.

 

iPhone Model and Release Year Announcement Day Tweets Release Day
Tweets
Twitter Users
1st generation, 2007 584 6k ~20k
3G, 2008 32k 45k ~1M
3GS, 2009 201k 205k ~10M
4, 2010 728k 384k 40M
4S, 2011 1.8M 662k 101M
5, 2012 3.4M 1.7M 167M
5C and 5S, 2013 3.3M 1.3M 231M
6 and 6 Plus, 2014 5.2M 2.3M 284M
6S and 6S Plus, 2015 2.1M 845k 304M

 

Union Metrics Echo makes it painless for brands to research a current or past product launch, do competitive research and understand share of voice.