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Newsletter Issue #938: There Are Surveys and There Are Surveys

You can manipulate sets of numbers to prove most anything you want, and even with the best of intentions, there’s a margin for error. Does either situation explain why Mac sales for the September quarter were severely undercounted by Gartner and IDC, two major market research firms? While Apple reported sales increases of over 10% year-over-year, Gartner and IDC estimated flat or slightly declining sales.

It isn’t the first time they screwed up. In the past, IDC claimed that Windows Phone — remember that one? — would eventually achieve a higher market share than the iPhone, thus putting it in second place. While Microsoft surely loved the news, it didn’t work that way in the real world. These days, Microsoft has mostly unraveled its smartphone presence. Market share is only a tad better than a rounding error.

So did Gartner and IDC apologize to the media for providing erroneous sales estimates, or making projections the turned out to be the opposite of the truth? Are they offering refunds to their clients for failing to deliver accurate information?

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