On your average day, how much time do you spend using products from the top tech companies?
If I had to guess, I’d say that I spend about 9 hours on my MacBook and at least one hour on my iPhone every working day, giving up 10 of my 14 daily waking hours to Apple.
Many of those hours are spent using software products from Google (Google search, Gmail, Google Maps, Drive), Microsoft (Office), and Facebook (Instagram and Facebook.com).
By these numbers, three or four top tech companies own pretty much all of my time.
I began pondering this connection between tech companies and time after reading a piece in Bloomberg graphics produced by Michael Keller and Alex Webb a few months ago. It reviewed the product offerings of six of the world’s largest tech companies (Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Samsung), and matched them up with some data about how the average American spends their day.
Here’s a snippet of what they came up with:
According to their analysis of the 2016 American Time Use Survey, the average American spends about 8.8 hours sleeping, 5 hours on leisure activities, 3.8 hours working, 3.12 hours on household activities, 1.18 hours traveling, 1.06 hours eating, 0.47 hours purchasing goods and services, and 0.35 hours on sports, recreation, and exercise every day.
Categorizing the hardware and software product offerings of the top tech companies into these same categories–sleep, leisure, work, home, travel, dining, retail, and sports–they looked into which tech products were aimed at which blocks of time.
Taking a look at their visuals it’s clear that many products target the two largest portions of the average American’s day (work and leisure), but I’m left with a few questions:
- How much total time do these top products target?
- Which products (and companies) have the potential to own the most of my time?
- How do the companies differ in their offerings, based on total time targeted?
- Do core products tend to target more time?
I used these questions to design my own visualization of the same data, focusing on differentiating the companies and products by total time targeted (with some extra emphasis on core products). I tried to produce a single visualization that would summarize everything presented in the original two graphics without introducing too much visual clutter.
Visualized this way, we can see that:
- The top three products (all smartphones) target users more than 10 hours per day
- The majority of companies have at least one core product that targets users more than 6 hours per day
- Apple has two core products targeting users more than 8 hours per day
- Amazon’s only core product targets users less than 2 hours per day, and they have no products targeting users over 6 hours per day!
Key elements of the redesigned graphic
In this redesign I played around with the balance between complexity and clarity, trying to find a way to:
- Emphasize specific takeaways
- Subtly layer in detail without detracting from the core visualization
I landed on three key design elements.
I contrasted filled circles with outlined ones. The filled circles carry much more visual weight, demanding much more attention and emphasizing the core products.I used color to categorize products by company, with the aim of differentiating the core product offerings from each company.
I added subtle tick marks to layer in some extra information about the activities targeted by each product (information that was not strictly necessary, but adds to the usefulness of the visualization).
I’d call the resulting chart a cross between a matrix diagram and a dot plot. The end product, I hope, presents a unique viewpoint of the original dataset without abstracting the data too much.
Want to make your own chart? Get started with this template: