Comparing The Market Share of Android Phones To The iPhone Is A D@mned Lie

on June 20, 2013

Disraeli is reputed to have said that there were three kinds of lies: Lies, damned lies, and statistics.

“Lies, damned lies, and statistics” is a phrase describing the persuasive power of numbers, particularly the use of statistics to bolster weak arguments. ~ Wikipedia

Comparing the market share of Android phones to the market share of iPhones is a damned statistical lie and it should never be done. Here’s why.

Venn Diagrams

If you drew a Venn diagram of “all iPhones” and “all iPhones that ran iOS”, they would be one and the same. Here is another example of such an overlapping Venn Diagram:


Source: thehighdefinite

— If you replace “Male friends who joke about having sex with you” with the words “all iPhones”; and
— If you replace “Men who would have sex with you if you showed the slightest interest” with the words “all iPhones that ran iOS”…

…you would ruin a perfectly good joke. But you would also have a Venn diagram that accurately represented the overlap between “iPhones” and “iPhones that run on the iOS operating system.” All iPhones run on iOS. But the opposite is not true. iOS is more than just iPhones.

On the other hand, Android phones are made by many manufacturers. About 40% are made by Samsung and the other 60% are made by Motorola, Sony, HTC and a variety of different hardware manufacturers. Why then do we lump all Android phones together and count them as one?

The only legitimate reason to group all Android phones together is in order to suggest a causal relationship between the number of Android phones and the strength of the Android platform. But is there such a relationship?

[pullquote]Comparing Android’s phone activation numbers to the iPhone’s sales numbers is akin to comparing fish to whales and concluding that fish outnumber mammals.[/pullquote]

The Folly Inherent In Comparing Android Phones to iPhones Instead Of Comparing Android To iOS

Comparing Android’s phone activation numbers to the iPhone’s sales numbers – and concluding that Android outnumbers iOS – is akin to comparing fish to whales and concluding that fish outnumber mammals.

Fish MAY outnumber mammals, but not nearly by the margin that fish outnumber whales. And Android devices do outnumber iOS devices but not nearly by the margin that Android phones outnumber iPhones. When making comparisons, one needs to compare like to like, otherwise, it skews the results.

There have been over 900 million Android devices activated and over 600 million iOS devices sold. And – if Flurry’s clientele is representative – the total number of active Android devices may only exceed the total number of active iOS devices by little more than 10% (see chart, below).


Source: Flurry

Comparing an operating system to an operating system; comparing all active devices to all active devices; comparing like to like; ((And don’t even get me started on the limited VALUE that Android’s market share brings to their platform. Android’s market share is literally a joke.

And if you are going to compare Android phones to iPhones, then it would be wiser and fairer to compare premium Android phones – such as the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One, etc. – to the iPhone.

And if you REALLY want to contend that market share translates directly into platform strength, then it would be far better to compare operating system VERSIONS against competing operating system VERSIONS, rather than simply lumping all of an OS’s versions together, totaling them, and pretending that they were of equal value to the platform.)) – now THAT is the proper basis for a comparison.

You do not compare an entire class of things to a subset of another class, and you do not compare phones that run the Android operating system to a subset of devices (iPhones) that run on the iOS operating system ((By the way, the exact same logic holds for comparisons of Android tablets to the iPad. Those comparisons are just as wrong as comparisons of Android phones to iPhones and they are wrong for the exact same reason – a class should never be compared to a subset of a class if your goal is to compare the two classes. Hardware models should be compared to hardware models. Operating systems should be compared to operating systems. Hardware models should never be compared to operating systems and vice versa.)), otherwise, you are likely to get is a skewed result…

…and a damned lie…

…or (-shudder-) a “Chart Of The Day.” ((A “Chart Of The Day” pretends to be based on relevant statistical data – but it often is, basically, the same thing as a damned lie – only worse.))

Legitimate Reasons Vs. Bogus Reasoning

There are legitimate reasons to compare fish to whales and there are legitimate reasons to compare Android phones to iPhones.

images-60Mammals and Fish Venn Diagram

But if you’re actually trying to compare fish to mammals or the Android operating system to the iOS operating system, such a comparison conceals – rather than reveals – the truth. It is deceitful, dishonest, untruthful, false, duplicitous, mendacious; hypocritical, untrustworthy, unscrupulous, unprincipled, two-faced, double-dealing, underhanded, crafty, cunning, sly, scheming, calculating, treacherous, Machiavellian, sneaky, tricky, foxy, crooked, fraudulent, counterfeit, fabricated, invented, concocted, made up, trumped up, untrue, false, bogus, fake, spurious, fallacious, deceptive and misleading.

In other words, it’s a damn lie.