Apple Brand References in Tweets

By: Jeff Clark    Date: Fri, 18 Sep 2009

Which Apple brands are most discussed on Twitter? I have analyzed a large set of tweets that contain the word 'apple' sent out over the course of an entire year - from Sep 1st, 2008 until Aug 31, 2009. I collected a total of 2,852,320 tweets in this time frame and analyzed every fifth tweet emitted (570,464 of them) to get the results below.

The following graph shows the distribution over time of the number of tweets containing the word 'apple'. There is an obvious overall rising trend as we would expect since the use of twitter has grown greatly over the course of that year. There are also many large peaks throughout the year and at least one large trough in late Aug 2009 that was likely due to a failure in my data collection infrastructure. There also appears to be a relative slowdown in activity in July and August but examining data from multiple years might be necessary to confirm this.

The most frequently mentioned apple brand in the data was 'iphone' by far which had 97,166 references in the 570,464 tweets (17%). The bar graphs below show the total number of references for some other Apple brands and how they compare to 'iphone'. Also shown are the distribution of the brand usage over time. These distribution graphs have been normalized using the number of tweets in each time period to remove the overall trend from the picture. They are also scaled independently in the vertical direction in order to show the most detail for each graph.

Note that these results are for tweets containing 'apple' and the brand in question. There are obviously a lot of tweets that mention these brands without explicitly referencing 'apple' but they are not a part of this analysis.

I lined up the initial graph showing the total number of tweets with the brand distribution graphs and you can see that several of the peaks in number of tweets in March correspond to big spikes in references to 'iphone', 'ipod', and 'mac'. The brands 'safari', 'shuffle', 'ilife' , and 'iwork' have surprisingly few references apart from the big spikes - people just aren't tweeting about them. All the top 6 brands, together with 'nano', and 'itouch', seem to have more consistent chatter about them in the twittersphere. The term 'leopard' (as in Snow Leopard) is obviously of more recent interest.

These graphs above give a great idea of how often the various brands were mentioned and the distribution over time. What are people actually saying about these brands? I've created accentuated word clouds that show the words used in conjunction with the various brands.

In an accentuated word cloud the sizes of the words are a function of both the frequency with which they occur and their prominence relative to a baseline text. For example, the word 'new' may be used quite frequently in tweets about 'iphone' but if it is used proportionally less often than in other tweets it will be made smaller. Similarly, a word like '3gs' may appear much more frequently together with 'iphone' than in other tweets and so its' size is increased.


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