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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Google Destroys Apple With Giant Robot

The Internet is a great place for misinformation at times. I mean, let's go back to all the wonderful FUD which arrived prior to the PlayStation 3 release which had at least two sources claiming that Sony would block used games from being played (which would be nearly physically impossible) and BoingBoing declaring that it wouldn't play Sony's flagship product - Blu-Ray movies (which was tinfoil at best).

On May 10th, the NPD group - a market leader in consumer demographics that many of us gaming bloggers know quite well as "the start of half the fanboy wars on any given forum", made this statement:

The Android operating system (OS) continued to shake up the U.S. mobile phone market in the first quarter (Q1) of 2010, moving past Apple to take the number-two position among smartphone operating systems, according to The NPD Group, a leading market research company. NPD’s wireless market research reveals that based on unit sales to consumers last quarter the Android operating system moved into second position at 28 percent behind RIM’s OS (36 percent) and ahead of Apple’s OS (21 percent).

“As in the past, carrier distribution and promotion have played a crucial role in determining smartphone market share,” said Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD. “In order to compete with the iPhone, Verizon Wireless has expanded its buy-one-get-one offer beyond RIM devices to now include all of their smartphones.”
-- Android Shakes Up U.S. Smartphone Market

Now let us take a step back and actually read this statement. It is saying, in relatively clear English, that in the first quarter of the year 2010 in the United States, Android outsold Apple's iPhone by some seven percent and that the spike was largely credited to Verizon extending buy one, get one free deals to Android that had previous been limited to RIM's Blackberry.

And that is pretty much all it is saying. Not quoted here is the fact that it does not include enterprise sales here - only consumer.

This was widely reported. In increasingly poor ways:

The iPhone gets the bulk of the mind share, but in actual U.S. smartphone sales, the iPhone trails not only Research In Motion's BlackBerrys but also now handsets built around Google's Android mobile operating system.
-- NPD report: Android outselling iPhone; BlackBerry number one

So kinda right. For one thing, you may note that the original NPD report avoided declaring that Android was outright outselling the iPhone - rather that is "shaking up the market". This is probably because Android taking second place in one quarter of one year by a somewhat slim margin thanks to marketing deals is probably not a strong indicator that the iPhone is doomed to a #3 spot.

We can quickly move from this statement to the just plain wrong:

The Android operating system has moved past the iPhone to capture the No. 2 ranking in smartphone operating systems in the first quarter of 2010, with 28 percent of the U.S. market, according to the NPD Group. The Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM) OS was still No. 1, with 36 percent marketshare, based on unit sales to consumers. Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone OS held steady with 21 percent.
-- Android Elbows iPhone Out of Second Place in US Market

Comparing first quarter sales to market share is like, uh, well, like comparing apples to the barrel in which they arrived. This mistake would be repeated and once again, NPD results would eventually kick off many a fanboy flamewar.

This is reality:

Android is suspected to take 10% of the overall smartphone market in 2010. Currently the market leader? Not even RIM - but Nokia with around 40%. In 2009, the Symbian OS held 47% off all smartphones.

Short version: even if Android outsold RIM in the first quarter of 2010 - they would be hard pressed to be in double digits market wise, much less second place.

That's not to say the report isn't news. It is, because Android sales have been increasing, and nearly every analyst seems to expect it to contiue to do so. The next couple years are likely to be very formative for the OS - but that does not mean it suddenly dominated Apple.

We have to remember that Apple just got into a massive PR campaign with Adobe over Flash, HTML5, the iPhone OS and the future of the web in general. Adobe responded by buddying up with Google and making several comments about how great Flash runs on Android. Then the NPD releases their report and pretty much the entire techsphere went off to the races.

Course, we also have the opposite end of the spectrum. Beatweek Online seems to specialize in reporting about two things: how great boy bands are and how great the iPhone is. Their homepage literally has two categories: Music and iPhone+iPod+iPad. Suppose in some ways it makes sense, many people listening to pop music do it on an Apple device. It's just a shame that they are so embarrassingly fanboy in their reporting, and so shamefully bad at it:

The report yesterday claiming that Android has now surpassed the iPhone in marketshare has been revealed to be more or less total bullshit, as it turns out the the claim was based on not on a head count of actual users of both platforms or a measure of total recent sales, but instead an online voluntary survey consisting of a grand total of a hundred and fifty thousand participants, a number representing less than one half of one percent of the number of people who’ve bought an iPhone. If anything, the statistically invalid survey confirms only that Android users are more willing to take online survey about their cellphone usage than iPhone users are. This new revelation not only completely negates yesterday’s claim that the Android is outselling the iPhone, it also calls into question the validity of the same survey’s claim that the BlackBerry is outselling them both.

In light of this news, it’s unlikely that any “data” or claims from NPD will be taken seriously any time soon, and we’re back at square one in terms of knowing how each smartphone is currently selling in relation to the next.
-- iPhone-Android “marketshare” turns out to be bulls— online survey

While not mentioned, this seemed to come in response to Apple's press release on the subject ... which seems to be the main basis of all of Beatweek's tech news. You can read the brief twitter spat I kicked off in response. When the extent of one's journalistic skills can't get beyond revealing something which was in the original report as shocking (which, with other statements by Beatweek, suggests they never bothered to read said original report) - one might consider a different hobby than writing about technology.

I have feeling NPD's "data" will still be widely accepted.

Back to work people. Sorry for the long post, short version: Verizon gives away free Droid phone with purchase of Droid phone. Droid sales increase dramatically.

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