Analytics Analytics
Left Chart: PlayBook, BB6 & BB7 stats are reported under Safari
Right Chart: Drilling into Safari stats, PlayBook, BB6 & BB7 devices report as Safari / (not set)

SERIOUSLY. Given the "perceived" state of BlackBerry in the marketplace today, having to write a blog post like this makes me really, really upset. I'm going to assume it's an oversight by Research In Motion or the Torch Mobile team, but it's a big one in my opinion that needs to be addressed asap. 

I don't spend too much time looking at the nitty gritty details of our site analytics, but today I logged into Google Analytics as I wanted to take a look at how many users/what % of users are coming to CrackBerry on BlackBerry 7 Smartphones. Drilling down into the Visitor > Browser stats (top left image), I found no shortage of OS 5 and older devices being reported, but it seemed for the most part that there is a complete lack of BlackBerry 6 / 7 devices and the BlackBerry PlayBook. Essentially, all of RIM's newer phones that run WebKit. Not good.

For a phone like the BlackBerry Bold 9900, the phone is supposed to report the browser agent as this (to services that are tracking analytics, etc):

"Mozilla/5.0 (BlackBerry; U; BlackBerry 9900; en) AppleWebKit/534.11+ (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/ Mobile Safari/534.11+" 

Notice that while it makes note of BlackBerry in the agent string, there is also mention of Safari.

Now jumping over to the Visitor > Browser and OS report in Google Analytics, I started to get a better sense of what's going on here. Google Analytics typically breaks apart Safari by related devices: Safari / Macintosh, Safari / iPad, Safari / iPhone, etc.

But also notice that there's a Safari / (not set) OS being reported, which after Mac computers on CrackBerry is the number one Safari browser/OS. Interesting....

Drilling down into the traffic trends for Safari / (not set) report (below), it became immediately apparent as to what is happening here. Just notice that nice spike the day the PlayBook was announced in April 2010 and it's crystal clear - the new BlackBerry devices are getting picked up by Google Analytics as Safari / (not set) on the browser. Looking at the exact numbers, etc (which i didn't include in the charts above), it's easy to see this all jives and that's what's happening. 

Drilling into Safari / (Not Set), it's easy to see this is the missing data for the PlayBook, BB6 / BB7 devices

To me this is really, really stupid. Android's web browser is based on WebKit too, yet it has no issue in reporting properly as Android Browser / Android as being the browser and OS. Apple devices are neatly categorized as mentioned above. Yet here we see new BlackBerry devices being reported in such a manner that if anything, is helping Apple! Seriously, a typical website operator using Google Analytics would look at the data being reported and attribute it to a Apple Safari device / browser, NOT to a BlackBerry as it rightly should be. 

Looking at these types of traffic stats is how a lot of companies decided what to support these days with their mobile apps as well. If no new BlackBerry devices are visiting our website, why would we make an app for BlackBerry? Honestly, looking at how the data is currently reported, even for a site like CrackBerry I should be prioritizing to build iOS and Android apps for this site before a better BlackBerry one. However, if the data was being reported accurately as it should (with all of the BlackBerry traffic and Safari / (not set) traffic attributed to BB WebKit grouped together), then BlackBerry would be no doubt be first on the list.

Maybe it's on Google's end to fix something up there -- as it looks like BlackBerry Smartphones are identifying themselves properly -- but even if that's the case the onus is still on RIM to make sure that's happening properly. If Apple can do it and others can, I'm sure RIM can too. 

In this post I'm specifically referring to how Google Analytics is not accurately reporting new BlackBerry devices within their browser and OS reports. Knowing Google of all companies is getting it wrong makes me wonder what other analytics tracking companies out there may be messing up on reporting the usage of BlackBerry to consume web content. Companies like Comscore put out regular reports looking at the browser usage on mobile devices. People put a lot of weight into those reports, so I sure hope they are accurately reporting the usage of NEW BlackBerry devices, and not just older pre-webkit ones. 

At this stage in the game, RIM needs to make sure they're getting their credit where it is due, and right now on Google Analyics they are shooting themselves in the foot, by if anything, further helping the competition.

For your own sake RIM, fix it!

/ end rant

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