Google Analytics Individual Qualification (IQ) - Passed!


iPhone 4S: A Worthy Upgrade Clouded By Activation Issues

When the iPhone 4S was announced on October 4th, there was much gnashing of teeth by Apple fanboys and stock market analysts about how this “lackluster” iPhone refresh was going to allow competitors to overtake Apple. That without a re-designed case and bigger screen and more storage and…and…and. All of the rumors (and the subsequent disappointment) ignored one of the simple economic realities of the cell phone market:

When buyers are locked in a two-year upgrade cycle, you don't need to change the product landscape with every model.

So if you’re like me and using an iPhone 3GS (or older!), the iPhone 4S should definitely be a worthy upgrade.

iPhone 4S Hardware: Many Improvements over the iPhone 3GS

One of the biggest reasons I’ve been looking to upgrade from the iPhone 3GS is that my phone has just started acting “tired” in the last 6-9 months.  When I purchased the 3GS, that was before iOS4 and iOS5, and with each iOS update I’m sure the processor usage has increased.  Skipping the iPhone 4 and waiting for the 4S, that’s two processor upgrades compared to my current phone, which I’m sure will make the phone feel that much speedier.

But it’s not just the processor here that’s a huge improvement…moving to the 4S gives a better camera with flash, front-facing camera to use with FaceTime, the Retina display for improved screen clarity, longer battery life, and 1080P video capturing.  I opted to purchase the white iPhone 4S (which doesn’t provide any additional functionality!) and upgraded to the 32GB storage instead of 16GB on my 3GS.

I think it’s safe to say that even without a case re-design, the iPhone 4S is in a different world hardware-wise than my current 3GS.

iPhone 4S Activation Issues

At this point, you’re probably expecting that I would cover how the iOS5 software is working on said hardware upgrade.  But if you’ve been following any of the major tech blogs like CNET, you see that there are widespread reports of users being unable to activate their iPhone 4S’s.  At first, I thought it was just AT&T’s generally poor service and network, but InformationWeek is reporting that all carriers are experiencing this phenomenon.  There may have been gnashing of teeth during the iPhone 4S announcement, but with Apple’s announcement of a pre-sale sell out, clearly there are ton of buyers out there.

One thing I can blame on AT&T though is a lack of foresight of proper error messaging.  When you sign in through iTunes, here’s the error message you get:

iphone-4S-activation-error-att

Well, which is it AT&T and Apple?  If my activation is still pending, and you are going to send me an email, why do I need to try again later?  I have to believe that some of the activation server problems stem from not being clear about what to do.  With users (like myself) re-sending the activation over-and-over again, and potentially a script inside of AT&T trying to activate all these iPhones, there’s got to be a ton of redundant processor cycles being burned.

I’ve also tried to activate straight from my iPhone via Wi-Fi and over the 3G cell network, and even called AT&T.  Not surprisingly, the customer “service” rep at AT&T claimed there’s no internal report of an activation problem, but I should try iTunes to see if that will activate my phone.

Thanks for nothing.

Once the Activation Issues disappear…

Eventually, I’ll be really happy with my purchase.  Until then, I’ve got the equivalent of a Christmas present that comes “Some Assembly Required” or “Needs Batteries (not included)”.  What was the promising start to the weekend with my new iPhone 4S is now just a blackout period, waiting for AT&T to get their shit together.

Update:  New error message

As if the first confusing error message wasn’t enough, now AT&T/Apple have switched it to say “Turn your phone on and off to retry”.  Wow, the old “Did you reboot your PC?” trick!

7 hours in, who knows how many attempts…no activation.

iphone-4s-activate-off-on

Update 2:  iPhone 4S Activation Complete!

After 7 hours of trying, finally I have a working iPhone 4S!

iphone-4S-activation-complete


Google Analytics SEO reports: Not Ready For Primetime?

On October 4th, Google announced that the Webmaster Tools/Google Analytics integration was now available to all users. The three new reports (Queries, Landing Pages, and Geographical Summary) are intended to allow site owners and content creators to monitor how well their content is indexed in Google for their keywords of interest across time, all within the Google Analytics interface.  However, based on my preliminary research from the first few days of data, I have to question the current algorithm’s accuracy.

Google Analytics SEO reports:  Impressions, Clicks,  Average Position, CTR

google-seo-query-report

Google Analytics SEO Report: Queries

All three reports have the same format, showing Impressions in Google search, Clicks, Average Link position (Organic) and Click-through Rate (CTR).  You can show this data by:

  • Search query: to understand how specific search terms are ranking
  • Landing page: to show how well individual pages (and their position) lead to clicks
  • Geography:  to understand how well your pages are ranking in your target market(s)

To avoid problems of false precision, these reports appear to round impressions to the nearest 10 for numbers less than 1000, and then to the nearest hundred when impressions are > 1000. Similarly, clicks aren’t reported when there are less than 10, although a CTR is reported…which is it Google, not enough data or is it measured precisely?

I rank WHERE for a female body part?

google-seo-report-womens-body-part

Ranked 8th on average for these keywords Google? I think not.

In the web analytics world, if you aren’t comfortable with imprecision and incomplete data, you’ll get burned out pretty quickly.  My above example of the exact click-through rate calculated from an inexact display of clicks is a minor nitpick.  However, when I see data from the table above being written into my account, I have to wonder just how precisely Google is measuring their impressions data.

The table above is from my other blog about the Duke MBA; I’m QUITE certain it doesn’t rank, on average, 8th for anything to do with female body parts!  I’d be the most in demand SEO in the world if I could pull that off, without even having the words on my page.  I would’ve been comfortable chalking that result up to a weird bug, had the page the query references was mangled.  It turns out, they all link to the same exact blog post, the story of a current (female, naturally) student’s journey from a small town in India to attending business school.  From what I can tell, the error is persistent as well, showing a small number of impressions every day.

Web Analytics:  Again, it all comes down to the Analyst

The above example is somewhat tongue-in-cheek; obviously it’s a data error, and I’m not running a multi-million dollar e-commerce website.  Heck, I’m not even paying for Google Analytics.  But had I been part of the Beta test of the Google Analytics/Webmaster Tools integration, I think I would’ve provided the following comments:

  • Don’t show search terms where there are low number of impressions: if you are getting 50 impressions per day and you rank 213th, you’re not really ranking for that term
  • Accuracy vs. Precision:  Either round the numbers or don’t.  Rounding impressions, putting <10 for clicks, then dividing the two to provide a CTR doesn’t provide confidence in the data
  • Provide the same reporting drill-down capabilities from Webmaster Tools within Google Analytics: To find out which page is ranking for this error term, I started in Google Analytics, but needed to go to Webmaster Tools.  Kinda defeats the purpose of having the data in the Google Analytics interface.

I’m confident now that Google has decided to step into the paid web analytics arena that these reports will only improve over time.  For now, I’ll be taking a sharp eye to the results, manually typing the queries into Google where necessary to see if I’m truly ranking where it says I am.

(And yes, I verified I don’t rank 8th for pornography terms ;))


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