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Monday, July 11, 2011

Beware of traffic statistics....

One of the problems with Twitter is that it forces people to abbreviate important details. Compounded with multiple layers of interpretation, it's quite possible for information to get filtered & misrepresented.

A case in point - I've just seen a tweet linking to this blog post about "traffic" from mobile and "non-computer" devices hitting 6% of the total in the US. The blog post originated from this Comscore survey which looks like it's generating some interesting and useful data.

However, that data is very specifically about Web Page viewing traffic by device type.

The blog post and tweet don't really make it clear that this is (a) conflating two definitions of "traffic" - one is essentially web page hits, the other is a measure of the volume of data being sent across the network; or (b) that this is just the web, not the whole Internet (ie including most sorts of streaming, email, VoIP, presumably a lot of non-HTTP app traffic and so forth).

If it had been a bit further in the future, there would be further confusion with HTML5 applications - what would constitute traffic / hits / consumption then?

I'll bet that over the next few days, we see that data recycled to suggest that mobile devices are generating 6% of overall GB / TB / EB of data "tonnage" across the generalised Internet, probably linking the story to cellular capacity crunches, offload, spectrum etc etc.

Incidentally, the red alarm for me when I spotted this was a lack of mention of Internet-connected TVs and set-tops. If I had to guess what "non-computer" devices generated *bulk* data across the Internet at large, I would expect a relatively small number of Roku's and Tivo's and similar TV-connected devices to consume huge volumes of video. (HDTV = about 5GB per hour). There's also presumably a huge chunk of (non-web) Internet traffic which is server-to-server.

Edit - in future, it'll get even more complex because of things like adaptive rate streaming, which divides videos into "chunks" a few seconds long, typically each with a unique URL. Is each one a web-page hit?

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