App Quadrant #2 – Netflix on iPhone & iPad Impacts Operator Networks More than on Android Devices

In our first edition of the Spirent (formerly Mu) App Quadrant, we compared the run-time aspects of the most popular desktop video applications – Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and Amazon Video on Demand – and showed that Netflix is not particularly friendly to both Consumers and Operators.

It’s not just the apps – devices matter too!

Operators continue to struggle with the unpredictable growth of applications and the devices used to access them. With millions of people running applications like Netflix, spikes can occur on the network which often leads to disruption of other applications and services.

Recently, Korea Telecom suffered a network outage where a third-party app took the voice-call success rate down to a mere 10% because the signaling traffic generated by the app overloaded its network.

Nokia Siemens Networks Smart Lab, in a recent article, showed that the Angry Birds app generates significantly more signaling on an Android phone than with other leading smartphones including the iPhone. It turns out that this is due to the addition of mobile advertising in the Android version of Angry Birds.

The Spirent (formerly Mu) App Quadrant II

So in this second edition of the Spirent (formerly Mu) App Quadrant, we thought we’d take a closer look at Netflix, this time to compare different end-point devices and their impact on Consumers and Operators. Again, we used the same two axes to compare and contrast:

  • Consumer-friendliness” – The less bandwidth an application consumes, the more Consumer-friendly it is.
  • Operator-friendliness” – The fewer connections established by an app, the more Operator-friendly it is, as less resources are consumed across the network.

For these tests, we used 5 devices, all wirelessly connected to the same LAN including: iPad, iPhone, Android (Sprint Nexus S 4G), Macbook (Mac OS X) and a PC running Windows 7. The most recent Netflix client app was installed on the mobile devices.

Netflix on iPad and iPhone may be great for the consumer, but not necessarily for the operator
What we found was quite interesting, as you can see in the picture below. Contrary to the Angry Birds example above, we found the opposite to be true for Netflix, that is:

  • The iPhone and the iPad are the most consumer-friendly for Netflix, but the least Operator friendly
  • The Android phone is the most operator friendly for Netflix, but the least Consumer friendly

What’s also interesting is that no single device is both Consumer- and Operator-friendly, nor is any single device unfriendly to both the Consumer and Operator.


Understanding the impact to Consumers and
Operators of different mobile devices streaming Netflix

Recreating apps is critical including the end user devices

As a result of these inconsistencies, we’re now starting to see collaboration between the app developers, the device manufacturers and the operators in an attempt to make the apps more network-friendly to help minimize network impact and ensure the best user experience.

So when testing the performance and scalability of the network by recreating millions of users running a mix of popular apps, be sure to represent the different end point devices too – they matter.

Stay tuned for the next Spirent (formerly Mu) App Quadrant which will focus on understanding the impact to consumers and network operators of various mobile devices accessing Skype.

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