When I was in college I majored in speech communication which also included a few argumentation and debate classes. To teach students about debate, our professor argued both sides of randomly selected debate topics; about three minutes on each side, pro and con. It was a marvelous presentation of skill and experience but it also taught me there is truth in the phrase often attributed to Mark Twain, ‘Lies, damned lies, and statistics.’
That’s also the case with lies, damned lies, and Apple statistics. In business, there are few numbers that have much meaning to the buying public, and those that are important to a business are less important to everyone else. Profit comes to mind as being more important than marketshare, for example.
Localytics is a research company that gathers, analyzes, and publishes data. Their latest collection is a guesstimate about iPhone’s current iPhone marketshare. In other words, how do iPhone models stack up against other iPhone models.
As expected, the iPhone 6 line (iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus) was a monster seller and accounts for about 38-percent of all iPhones in the market. Whatever the technology behind the research for such numbers, it remains a guesstimate, and only Apple knows the actual numbers but let’s say these new numbers are somewhat accurate.
iPhone 6s models account for just over 27-percent of the installed and usable iPhone base. iPhone 5 models just over 24-percent, iPhone 4 models just under 4-percent, iPhone SE models at less than 3-percent, and the new– two weeks– iPhone 7 models at 3.6-percent.
A quick look at the graphic above can tell you many things. iPhone 7 models are already at 10-percent of the iPhone 6 line. Even Localytics, the company making the guesses as to which models have what amount of share, has a headline that indicates the obvious: ‘Adoption of iPhone 7 and 7 Plus Has Grown Rapidly.’
Yet, the headline from ZDNet, a notorious digital rag fond of opinion not always based in fact, has a headline for the same data: ‘iPhone 7 Fails To Live Up To iPhone 6 Demand.’
Why the difference between the headlines on the same data?
First, Localytics is a research company that gathers data and presents it to readers with no obvious axe to grind. Let the numbers speak for themselves. Second, ZDNet is mostly a PC-centric mouthpiece with anti-Apple tendencies, and presents another perfect example of ‘lies, damned lies, and Apple statistics.’
iPhone 7’s two-week growth did not match iPhone 6’s two-week growth, therefore, ipso facto, and Voila! Apple is placed in a bad light with no perspective to explain the difference. Oh, and Apple has decided not to announce first week or first week iPhone sales numbers because scandal.
What’s missing in all the statistics are the obvious variables which are more difficult to quantify, including the difference between demand and fulfillment, sometimes called supply constraints. There should be little question that demand for new iPhones outstrips supply in the first few months. It should also be understood that the iPhone 6 was a monster upgrade from iPhone 5s with pent up demand for those huge screens, so there’s that, too.
Localytics data also shows that iPhone 7 has entered the marketplace somewhat faster than iPhone 6s models. Yet, iPhone and iPad users have not updated as quickly to iOS 10 as they did to iOS 9, yet faster than iOS 8. In other words, these statistics are interesting, but there are too many variables to take much out of it other than the obvious. Apple is selling as many iPhone 7 models as it can make, and it’s likely to be that way for awhile.
All too often digital trade rags focus, traditionally minus any insightful analysis, on number comparisons which at first glance appear damning or positive (depending on who has what numbers) and marketshare, itself a guesstimate, is the first one mentioned; yet it’s seldom the most important to a company. Fitbit might sell more of their exercise tracking devices than Apple, but Apple makes more money; revenue and profits. Likewise, Samsung may sell more smartphones, but Apple takes home the bacon a company needs to fund new products and future growth. It’s that way with PCs, too.
Whenever you read headlines that scream numbers for or against this or that, scratch the surface a bit, consider the source, think of what variables are missing in the analysis, remember that today’s crop of technology writers are more in the game of sensationalist headlines and false arguments than insightful analysis. The former is easy, the latter takes time and effort.