From its beginning back in May 2011, NFC-using Google Wallet has struggled to get customers, having to overcome a shortage of retailers supporting it and an even smaller list of phones supporting it. The Guardian decided to try and quantify how many are using it today and whether that has any implications for Apple Pay.
Unfortunately, the most meaningful metrics at issue—how many people are using it with what frequency and at what dollar spend?—were not identified. The publication’s analysis focused solely on the number of downloads and the stars awarded in reviews, assuming that anyone giving the app a strong rating had to have used it and been pleased with the experience.
“Google declined to give the number of downloads of Google Wallet, which is available as a download from Google Play. The current number of downloads shows as between 10m and 50m – offering a wide margin for error,” the story noted. “However, based on download figures on the Google Play store, the total installed base is less than 20m. Download milestones recorded on the Internet Archive show that it passed 1m in August 2012, 5m download byMarch 2013 and passed 10m downloads between 4 October and 9 October 2013. That suggests that there have been fewer than 20m downloads of Google Wallet. Although it comes preinstalled on the Nexus line of phones, those have had comparatively low sales – in the single-digit millions in the US – suggesting 20m as the maximum number in use.”
The story then explored the reviews issue. The problem with assuming that positive reviews are frequent users is that some people give stars even if they have never had the chance to use it.
“Of 50,000 Google Play reviews, a total of 7,135 (14.4 percent) are one-star reviews – which typically use phrases like ‘doesn’t work’ – and 1,699 (3.4 percent) are two-star reviews, using phrases like ‘not finished’ or ‘refuses to work after update.’ If we assume that those who gave the app one or two stars are not active users (which seems reflected in their comments) while those with three or more stars do use it, that suggests there are about 16.4 million devices using Google Wallet in the US. If one assumes that only the proportion who give it one star don’t use it, the figure is 17.1m. Compared to the total 89.4m Android userbase in the U.S., that means around 19 percent – or nearly one in five – has the Google Wallet app and probably uses it at least occasionally.”