Market Segmentation Among Smartphone Users Who Print?

by Jim Lyons | 6/1/14

Would my next print job on an AirPrint MFP go best with a Cabernet or Merlot? 
Is an Android-enabled printer available somewhere near my bus route? 
Based on recent research, these could be the kinds of questions smartphone users are asking themselves, at least if we can put a few data points together.

Once again, this month I take on a happy confluence of several of my favorite topics from somewhat far-flung tributaries of thought. One of those interests is the general field of marketing segmentation and advertising, another is my fascination with the world of mobile devices and the state of mobile printing, and the third relates to the overall quantification of things and how important it is to track the numbers, especially over time.

Earlier this month, I noticed several stories that referred to a study on the contrasting characteristics between users of Apple iPhones (which all use iOS) and Google/Android-based smartphones. As Ina Fried’s Re/code story (“Android Users Are More Likely to Take the Bus, While the Frequent Fliers Choose iPhones) summarizes, Battery Ventures did research on user activities and characteristics that are most (and least) correlated with owning and using the two dominant smartphone operating systems of the day. As Fried’s report on the research indicates, the motivation for the study is market segmentation, leading to better deployment (i.e., ROI) of mobile ad dollars – in other words, what are the basic buying interests and characteristics that separate the users of each platform? And given that information, where should potential advertisers place should ads for their products and services with the goal of reaching the most likely buyers?

As a part-time professor of marketing, I am fascinated by segmentation, and in fact subscribe to the idea that market segmentation is one of the most critical ideas in the whole discipline of marketing. Segmentation is on my short list of topics, in fact, that I stress to my MBA marketing students, threatening to not let them out the door of my classroom until they can recite a few segmentation basics. For example, whenever someone hears “no one will buy this” or “everyone is going to love that,” I contend that they need to immediately reject those statements, knowing that segmentation precludes such universal judgments.

So when Battery Ventures’ research of smartphones users finds iPhone users are more likely to be wine drinkers, and Nexus users are more likely to be beer drinkers, this is a useful metric, but like other points about segmentation, it is neither a value judgment nor a statement of causation. I refer readers to the Re/code and Business Insider articles for more “fun facts” about the two camps gleaned from Battery’s research, and especially take in some of the reader comments, and how strong some peoples’ reactions are to this perceived “stereotyping” that really isn’t that at all, but still seems to raise both ire and suspicion.

A now-classic example of similar segmentation involved Windows and Macintosh web surfers. An August 2012 Wall Street Journal story disclosed that the travel site Orbitz, based on user research, was offering Mac-based web browsers higher rates as compared to Windows users. (See “On Orbitz, Mac Users Steered to Pricier Hotels.”)

As the mobile/smartphone market has developed over the last several years, there have been a long string of stories about “iPhone versus Android” quantification that includes, for example, how many apps are used by platform, the amount of web browsing for which each is responsible, the volume of ecommerce by each, etc. In every case, the numbers tilt Apple’s way. At the same time, the market figures show iOS losing the market-share war, more so every reporting period, leaving app developers and others to debate which platform to support first – the one with the installed base numbers in its favor (Android) or the one with the more active, involved users (iPhone). One major app developer, Microsoft, recently made what seems the logical decision, porting the long-awaited mobile Office apps to iPhone in March and with Android support TBD (see

At a recent HP Industry Analyst event, I had a conversation about mobile printing and its users with none other than Dion Weisler, senior vice president and head of HP’s PC and Printer Organization. He indicated, without spilling all the beans, that a large difference existed in printing behavior when it came to the two platforms. In thinking about this more, and then following up with others, it made sense more printing would come from the more active iPhone users.

Data HP was willing to disclose, both during their Analyst event in March and also via follow-up recently, some data that adds credence to this idea. Their analyst-briefing slides included quite a bevy of numbers including an overall 66 percent of smartphone users interested in being able to print from their devices, with mobile printing capability cracking the top five of printer selection criteria. Among their Instant Ink printing users (see last month’s post on “The Internet of Things”), 30 percent of their devices have received at least one print job from an iOS device. And when I pressed on iOS/Android splits, and keeping in mind the company is understandably close to the vest with much of its market data, a spokesperson did confirm that “iOS dominates mobile print jobs, but Android is on the rise.”

These data are just a start, and between numbers provided by HP and other vendors, and those available on the websites of such printing-oriented pages as those from Apple and Mopria, a regular Harper’s Index could be generated. And speaking of that, stay tuned for June’s Observations.

Jim Lyons has been writing, analyzing and blogging about industry developments since 2006. In his monthly Observations column he comments on business and marketing developments in the printing and imaging industry, combining many years of experience with an ever-enthusiastic eye on the future. In the Jim Lyons Observations column on The Imaging Channel, highlights from that blog appear monthly. Lyons is also a faculty member at the University of Phoenix, teaching marketing and economics at its school of business, and is a regular contributor to both The Imaging Channel and Workflow. Follow him on Twitter @jflyons and read more of Jim Lyons Observations at