Spinning the figures

Stats are a tricky thing. When you’re trying to push an argument and you have raw statistics by your side, it’s usually very easy to feed them to your audience in a fashion that misrepresents them. Using that as a base you can form conclusions varying from just misguided to outright lies…

Published 2007-09-22. Read 2,091 times. 0 Comments. Tagged: rant statistics

Stats are a tricky thing. When you’re trying to push an argument and you have raw statistics by your side, it’s usually very easy to feed them to your audience in a fashion that misrepresents them. Using that as a base you can form conclusions varying from just misguided to outright lies and people might just lap it all up.

I’m guilty of it. Most people who get into debates of the "x vs y"-ilk are guilty of this to some degree. Anyway, the example that got me going this time was from a Matt Peckham’s PCWorld Blog. I saw the title "Sony PSP Vaults Past Nintendo DS in Japan" on Digg and thought Sony really must have ubersold some PSPs.

This is why Sony may yet rule the console-verse in spite of all its missteps and bungled first-gen games and cynical press. Because pretty much out of the blue, a game like Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII can come along in the right market (Japan) and turn a mediocre selling handheld system into a top seller six times the PSP’s prior week sales. Snap. Just like that. Crisis Core’s sale to-date in Japan? 486,659.

And uses the following weekly sales figures to back it up (from Media Create):

  • 95,487 Sony PSP
  • 79,974 Nintendo DS
  • 26,181 Nintendo Wii
  • 13,128 PlayStation 2
  • 13,101 PlayStation 3
  • 1,243 Xbox 360

So yes, the PSP is outselling the DS this week but since when has anybody used weekly figures to measure console success? Secondly, this is based purely (and admittedly) around the sales of single game.

No, this isn’t the most evil example of manipulated statistics but it’s more junk reporting that, at a glance, would make somebody believe that Sony have sold more PSPs than Nintendo has DSes — when in fact Nintendo have sold over 13 million more units in Japan than Sony.

But if you want real malicious spin, look no further than your own politicians =)

About Oli: I’m a Django and Python programmer, occasional designer, Ubuntu member, Ask Ubuntu moderator and technical blogger. I occasionally like to rant about subjects I should probably learn more about but I usually mean well.

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