Newsletter Issue #593: Should You Believe Industry Analyst Projections?

April 11th, 2011

A number of companies are in the business of trying to predict future sales of tech gear, but you wonder whether they actually use computers to crunch the numbers and come up projections, or they are taking out their crystal balls and ouija boards to divine the truth about future events. Or just talking through their hats.

If you recall, one analyst last year projected some five million tablet computers would be sold in 2010, even after initial iPad sales had already come surprisingly close to that overall number. I’d think that if I delivered such a pathetic outlook to my employers, I’d be severely chastised, or be left looking for a new job. Then again, I suppose you could say the very same thing about product managers who continue to launch gear that fails. Where’s the accountability?

For example, there’s a report quoting the Gartner Group suggesting that Google Android OS handsets will claim 49 percent of the market by 2015, and, somehow, and I don’t know how, the Windows Phone platform from Microsoft will attain second place, way ahead of the iPhone.

Now I presume that there are some clear assumptions in making this proclamation, the major one of which is the expected impact of that recent deal with Nokia and Microsoft. By the end of this year or early in 2012, Windows Phone 7 will take over the default spot on Nokia smartphones. I suppose the theory goes that, since Nokia is the largest handset maker on the planet, Microsoft’s mobile OS is assured of success. Well, at least that’s how the theory goes.

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