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So I Ran the Numbers

I was doing some soul searching over this site’s Google Analytics data which as Chris told you put Windows device traffic at 3.7% , now 2.7%, iOS 53%. Hard to believe given how alone all you WP enthusiasts make me feel here. So I ran the numbers myself, came up with some figures that roughly 40% of you will appreciate. I’ve let this slide for too long with Google, time to blow the whistle.

You probably didn’t notice but in addition to having Google Analytics javascript I have a 1×1 pixel transparent blank GIF in the footer of all pages hotlinked to my own server which for a few reasons struck me as a good idea, largely because relying on Javascript made the Google Analytics data too vulnerable to doubt whereas just about every browser will load that hotlinked GIF in the site-wide footer on a normal non-RSS pageview.

So every time someone does something on the site, it leaves a mark on a big text file I’ve been collecting for some time. Included in that file is whether you’ve loaded the GIF before, so can differentiate between landings and multiple pages per visits. As for RSS and Google Reader traffic, I’m in the habit of tagging my articles and sometimes David’s in order to get a peek at that data as well. Between these little invisible GIFs and Google Analytics, also the server-side logs which are kind of useless with all the bots inflating them like crazy, though not 100% air tight, I’ve got a pretty good view of the viewers. One might call it obsessive or sort of creepy. Pic related, by the way. 🙂

So Google says that yesterday, of the mobile device visits to any page on the site, only 2.7% of them were “Windows” while 49% were Apple (iPod, iPhone, iPad) and 45% Android. As much as I want to believe that, I sought a second opinion from my server. I dumped Monday’s blank GIF-serving data into two different files, one counting only landings while filtering out cached hits, another counting all pageviews, both including hits to the mobile theme.

I’ll give you the details of exactly how I produced these figures if you want, but for pageviews for yesterday I came up with iOS at 30%, Android at 27%, Windows Mobile at 6%, Windows Phone at 34% — so 40% for Microsoft-based mobile platforms, not 2.7% as Google’s showing. Visits almost the same give or take, though I scooped up 69% more mobile visits out of the pile than Google tallied while using the same array of platforms – even though our total figures for phones and computers for Monday were on par with each other, and that’s also peculiar. I did this meticulously.

If you’re inclined to believe my data over Google’s, or at least somewhere in between, it’s probably true that Google is telling a lot of other people out there checking out the mobile hits on Analytics to their site that Windows devices basically don’t exist even more than actually is the case.

And that in turn leads people like Chris to write an article about the stunningly low figure on a very WP-heavy-looking website like this, and that activity occurring here and probably elsewhere definitely doesn’t help the platform attract more consumers or hang on to the few it already as. Nor does it reflect well on Google Analytics and my overall confidence in all of its data, or yours now that you’ve read this.

Here, look, the most recent hit, and guess which platform it is:

mobile-[redacted] – – [16/Aug/2011:13:24:10 -0400] “GET /blankmd.gif HTTP/1.1” 200 358 “ “Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows Phone OS 7.0; Trident/3.1; IEMobile/7.0; SAMSUNG; SGH-i917)”

I’d say the deck is stacked against WinPho enough as it is and that by now this should have been addressed. What’s up with that, Google?

Doug Simmons