|Android Users Tend to Be Democrats|
On Jan 25, 2011, KeyesLabs conducted the first in a series of live experiments to determine how users interact with mobile devices while watching television. Our goal was simple and targeted - create an application that would enhance the experience of watching the 2011 State of the Union Address, and measure how users interacted with the app during the live address. Click here, to see an interactive replay of the experiment. You can also read the details about what we discovered...
We wrote an Android application that provided users the ability to anonymously register their sentiment of what was being said in real time. Users could see the average sentiment of all other users, categorized by Democrat, Republican, and Independent/Other party affiliations. Additionally, we provided relevant "factoids" that were synchronized to what was currently being discussed in the speech.
The application back end was developed using Google App Engine. We didn't announce the application until about 24 hours before the address, as we did not want to overload the GAE back-end infrastructure. It turned out that this was a wise decision, as our quick implementation wasn't particularly efficient. Over the course of one hour, a mere 333 users racked up a bill of $10 in CPU time, which is a whole crap-load of cycles. We clearly need to optimize our server code.
Overall, however, the experiment was successful beyond our expectations. We collected more users than we had hoped for (we were targeting about 200), and nothing crashed. More importantly, our hypothesis that mobile users are willing to interact with mobile applications in conjunction with TV appears to be true.
Over the course of the one-hour speech, the average user kept the mobile Android companion app open for 57 minutes. Additionally, users interacted with our app an average of about once every minute-and-half. While the majority of users tended to report themselves as affiliated with the Democrat Party, Republicans were by far the most aggressive crowd, interacting with the Android app once very 38 seconds!
We've created a live reenactment of the speech with synchronized sentiment and a really cool geo-coded interaction map that we think you'll like. Feel free to check it out, and share it with the world. The replay is probably best viewed on a desktop browser. It's been lightly tested with FF, Chrome, and IE7+ on Windows XP+ and Mac OS.
So where do we go from here? Well, we've got some other experiments queued up for the not-to-distant-future to evaluate other aspects of the combination of mobile and TV. We're convinced that this technology mix is going to reshape both industries over the next few months, and we've got some really cool products in the works. We know that we're not the only ones thinking about this right now (e.g., IntoNow and Shazam), but our technology and our approach to this market is going to be really exciting, so stay tuned!