WWDC: Apple wins the Twitterverse

Apple Pay and iOS 9 win hearts and minds, but doubts remain about Apple Music

apple wwdc2015 theysay analysis.001


Apple made a range of key announcements during its WWDC keynote and overall sentiment on Twitter is firmly in favor of what it revealed, according to an Oxford University computational linguistic social media sentiment analysis system.

Apple nailed 94 percent approval with its WWDC keynote from the Twitterverse.

apple wwdc2015 theysay analysis.003 TheySay

Apple Pay and overall reaction to the Keynote drove positivie feeling -- but Apple's Tim Cook is clearly winning positive claims.

“It is fair to say that Apple is somewhat unique in its behavioural characteristics as far as automated sentiment analysis is concerned,” Oxford University academic Karo Moilanen, CTO and co-founder of TheySay, told Appleholic.

“Unlike most other companies, Apple's sentiment ratings tend to be sky-high regardless of the product, topic, or issue in question. This is not to say that no negative opinions and emotions are expressed in social media around Apple the brand, but rather [that] any negative opinions are often swamped by sheer tidal waves of positive sentiment.”

apple wwdc2015 theysay analysis.004 TheySay

Note that while these are the strongest negatives, the comparative number of them (in comparison to those in favor) is quite small.

94,528 samples

Based on 94,528 sample Tweets assessed during the time of the keynote, TheySay figured out that 94 percent of people Twittering on the topic were positive about the WWDC keynote speech.

“Apple's attempt to increase diversity was well received,” said Moilanen.

apple wwdc2015 theysay analysis.002 TheySay

This is the raw volume of mentions analyzed overall, which suggests volume of reaction to some topics.

TheySay uses groundbreaking Oxford University research into computational linguistics to analyze social media mentions in order to figure out sentiment.

News on Apple Pay and iOS 9 secured in excess of 90 percent approval. (Apple Pay: 98 percent, iOS 9, 96 percent.)

Slightly cooler but still very strong signals were detected for OS X 10.11 (88 percent) and Apple Music (85 percent).


Apple co-founder Steve Jobs remains an almost divine figure in the Apple universe; Jobs was referred to “more often than HomeKit,” TheySay said.

“Many Tweeters referred to their dear memories of past WWDC events in which the legendary Jobs set standards to new heights. Accordingly, many comparisons between Steve Jobs and Tim Cook were made.”

Apple’s move to make Swift 2 Open Source confounded many on Twitter, with some saying “Jobs would not have initiated” such a scheme.

Apple Music and Apple Pay were the most discussed announcements, with Apple Pay generating twice as much positive sentiment as Apple Music. The latter generated 4.5 times more negative sentiment as Apple Pay, but Apple Music also “generated the highest levels of excitement and agitation, followed by iOS 9 and Apple Pay.

“Among tweets about Apple Music, negative references to Spotify and other rivals featured prominently,” Moilanen said.

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Clearly the event delviered some surprises.


It’s tempting to ask how reliable social media sentiment actually is as a guide to reaction, so I did. Moilanen responded that the level of reliability depends on three main factors:

  • The topics/issues tracked
  • The measure of 'accuracy' or 'reliability' used
  • The amount of data processed (the more data the better the insight).

“Given the inherently subjective nature of sentiment and the fuzzy properties of emotion and affect, assessing and quantifying the reliability of Social Media sentiment comes with many conceptual and practical challenges,” he said.

“Many academic studies have demonstrated in the past decade that automated sentiment analysis and opinion mining systems can approach reliability levels which are relatively close to human performance in surprisingly many cases.”

While machines continue to find it hard to discern more nuanced emotions, such as sarcasm and irony, and remain challenged to assess neutral opinion, they seem able to cope with extremely strong positive and negative opinions as evidenced in reaction to Apple’s WWDC, he said.

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Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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