The Macalope Daily: Anecdatal evidence


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Turns out taking dubious survey results as gospel isn’t just for Apple haters.

Yes, watch out, kids, because the door to the kitchen full of cooked-up numbers swings both ways, and you don’t want to take it full in the face.

Monday brought us some Schadenfreude-licious “news” about sales of the Microsoft Surface:

“11 Apple iPads per hour vs. zero Microsoft Surface tablets”

Zero?! That’s practically none! But, wait, shouldn’t Apple be selling more than 11 iPads an hour? What is this?

Well, turns out it’s more of Piper Jaffray analys Gene Munster’s patented undercooked cookin’. Where did Mr. “Apple’s Shipping A Television Any Day Now, I Swear!” come up with these numbers?

Munster’s crew spent eight hours on Black Friday, as it has every year for the past five years, counting heads at the Apple Store in the Mall of America in Minneapolis. This year he (or his staff) also spent two hours monitoring the Microsoft Store directly across the hall.

It’s the “Mall of America,” people! Its very name implies it’s completely representative of America! (God help us all.)

Yeah. In this instance the Macalope is inclined to agree with the gentleman from across the aisle, Brad Sams from Winsyde (tip o’ the antlers to Matthew Panzarino):

We are fully aware of how percentages work but when you are comparing two different entities with two different sample sizes, 1:1 comparisons can become skewed.

Not to mention the fact that spending a day in front of two stores in a mall might provide you with data indicative of the whole, but only by luck. It’s just not a large enough sample size to be statistically valid. Although Sams actually does mention that fact:

We respect Munster’s ability to sit in a Mall for 8 hours on a busy shopping day and count products but to make a substantial claim from this information is unwarranted and down-right chaotic. While Microsoft’s retail experience may be sub-par, according to the report, to truly understand if Microsoft’s retail experience is coming up short, we need a lot more data.

Indeed. In the world of statistics, this is just above “None of my relatives own a Surface so they must not be selling well.”

Of course, none of this is to say the Surface is selling well. As a matter of fact, we have a decent amount of evidence to conclude they’re not exactly selling like the proverbial and delicious hotcakes, even when you crank butter and syrup on them (possibly because that also voids the warranty). But we can’t very well mock silly pundits for using lousy “data” from suspect “surveys” and then turn around and do the same.

Otherwise a mythical beast with antlers, hooves, and a Classic Mac for a head might lose his credibility.

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