When I was young my parents would listen to Paul Harvey on the radio. His style was quirky, distinct, and memorable.
What I remember most was ‘The Rest of the Story,’ Harvey’s unique look at the details of a story beyond the headlines and summary. We could use a little of Paul Harvey’s insight in the era of lies, damned lies, and statistics.
Android Is Winning!
Apple has been on something of a paradoxical roll in the past year. Each quarter brings new revenue and profit records and many tens of millions of satisfied customers.
Somehow those record numbers have been twisted, convoluted, distorted, or ignored as today’s technology media grows ever more myopic when comparing Apples to Androids.
As they say, numbers don’t lie, but liars can move numbers around to paint a picture that’s not an accurate representation of reality.
Take IDC’s latest prognostication of the tablet market. Basically, Tablets Will Challenge PC Sales By 2017 As Android Passes iPad.
In essence, the headline and first couple of paragraphs indicate that we indeed live in the post-PC era as Steve Jobs said. Tablets are replacing PCs in astonishing numbers.
And, Apple is doomed because Android tablets will overtake iPads in market share sometime this year. It’s a projection, of course, but it’s math. Just as Android tops Apple’s iPhone in the smartphone market, so will Android tablets top the iPad.
Or, will it?
Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics
When dealing with projections and numbers it’s good to have a reality test. One test is to look around to see how many iPad competitors are nearby. Where are they? Maybe they’re coming. Soon.
Thankfully, there’s Ben Bajarin in Tech.pinions to bring a dose of reality to the growing trend of Android is Winning! noise. Here’s IDC’s original chart showing the iPad (in blue) compared to Android tablets (in red). Sometime this year, Android-based tablets should top iPads in units.
Apple is doomed, right? Numbers don’t lie, right?
Of course, IDC’s numbers are not actual sales numbers because only Apple provides sales numbers, vs. analyst’s projected shipments of products, but that’s a different argument.
If anything, IDC’s chart displays a really huge problem for both Android devices and Microsoft’s tablet fortunes (which don’t appear to be much of a fortune). Even with that huge chunk of red, Android tablet makers don’t make much money (if any at all). It’s about as close to sell through as you can get, so how is it again that Apple is doomed and Android is winning if only Apple makes a hefty profit?
Regardless, Bajarin digs a little deeper into the red section (seemingly an appropriate color for Android maker fortunes who only see red in their balance sheet) to determine the makeup of Android tablets.
As it turns out that block of red representing Android tablets can be sliced and diced in a way not favorable to Android or Google (who has yet to make any profit on Android despite spending billions of dollars).
Bajarin segregates Android tablets as defined by being able to use Google Play and use Google advertising (how Google attempts to make money) and all the others– Kindle Fire HD, Android devices in China, etc.
Suddenly, the Google-approved Android tablet market, even as far forward as 2017, doesn’t look at all like Android is winning.
By 2017, of course, the tablet industry is expected to be huge and very damaging to traditional Windows PC sales, and guess who owns the most profitable chunk of it? Apple. How is it again that Android is winning?
Here’s the problem. Too much of tech media these days mirrors what has happened within traditional mainstream media. Taking sides. Instead of reporting news, as CNN has done for a few decades, Fox News and MSNBC take polar opposite positions in politics and news; distorting reality to gain viewers. Is it any wonder than CNN has been hosed in the ratings wars simply by trying to remain a traditional news organization?
So it is with business and tech media. It’s better for the bottom line to stir up the dust, obfuscate reality, and replace it with what appears on the surface to be news but is more akin to freshly baked sensationalism covered with an attractive skin of fictionalized facts.
It takes effort and time and thought to scratch through that veneer to find ‘the rest of the story.’ How does Apple win in the era of lies, damned lies, and statistics? By building a better product. How’s that working out?
One more thing. You know what the Bell Curve is, right? Check out my example in Goodbye Google Reader: The Bell Curve Is Out Of Shape.