Apple analytics and 'the device'

Apple released its analytics platform last week and there are plenty of reviews and predictions for how this will affect the podcast industry (my guess is, it won’t). But the question I am most curious about is…

Why did Apple chose ‘unique device’ as its core metric?

Apple has long used privacy as a competitive advantage over its rivals, their business model is selling hardware instead of, as Apple will tell you, selling your personal details. Podcast publishers were never expecting personal details to suddenly appear in Apple’s analytics but they probably were expecting ‘downloads’ or listens to be the metric that Apple used. “Unique Device” is curious because it is neither a download, nor is it a listen. In fact, it is hard to think of a more confusing metric - it’s somewhere between a download and a listen. The figure will be less than a download because a user downloading an episode several times will count as just one device but it will be more than a listen because a listener that listens to an episode once on her iPhone and once on her iPad will still be counted as two devices despite the fact it was one listener.

This is not quite the savior of podcast advertising that the industry was hoping for - it actually plays to the hands of those that say the lack of podcast metrics is exactly why podcast adverts work so well. Podcast advertising is still is its infancy which means it attracted direct response advertisers that understand the market; will brand advertisers want to know about ‘unique devices’?