Is this Apple fanboyism to the extreme or an honest mistake by a popular tech blog?

2013-04-05_220944

I often troll the Internet to find interesting news tidbits to post about on dotTech (or to make Enrique post about them, poor lad having to do my bidding). I was doing the same today when I came across an article on BGR (or should I say, iBGR as some people like to call it) proclaiming Gartner, a well-respected company known for providing data regarding industry trends, predicts “Apple devices to outsell Windows for first time ever in 2013″. This, of course, is hot news. I wanted to post about it on dotTech, so I quickly read the article and performed my due diligence to find out if it was actually true.

In their article, BGR sourced an article by Financial Times and quoted data from a Gartner study. The Gartner study itself is a six-page study that costs $1,495 but Gartner provides some free insights on their website, so I went there. To my surprise, a table on Gartner’s website shows Apple devices are not predicted to “outsell Windows” in 2013:

2013-04-05_213802

(Note: There is a difference between “sales” and “shipments”, but Gartner typically treats them as interchangeably in studies so ignore the difference.)

At this point I was baffled. BGR is known to be overly pro-Apple (some people accuse it of being pro-Apple on purpose, because Apple-related articles get a lot of views from pro and anti Apple fans) and they are the stereotypical blog: posting everything and anything whispered about on the Internet, regardless of if it is substantiated or not. However, blatantly misleading readers by posting inaccurate facts? I’m not talking about a click-bait title, which is something many websites (including dotTech) are accused of doing; rather, I’m talking about a whole article based on clearly false fact. I figured even BGR wouldn’t stoop to that level, so I thought I was misunderstanding the table provided by Gartner.

At that point I decided to see what other websites had to say about the issue, so I googled it. Unfortunately, all the websites I found via Google were sourcing their information from BGR, which did me no good because BGR’s accuracy was in question. So then I headed over to Financial Times and registered a free account, which allows me to view eight articles per month without paying. I read the Financial Times article sourced by BGR and then realized what is going on.

The following is a quote from Financial Times:

Last year, Apple’s combined consumer sales of 159m iPhones, iPads and Macs lagged behind the total 175m devices running Microsoft Windows. Gartner predicted that Apple unit shipments would reach 233m in 2013, overtaking Microsoft’s growth to 181m.

So, according to Financial Times, which presumably has access to Gartner’s full study, Gartner predicts 233 million iPhones, iPads, and Macs and 181 million Windows-based devices (computers, tablets, smartphones, etc.) will be sold/shipped in 2013. These numbers aren’t the same as shown in Gartner’s table I showed to you above. So what is going on here? The key is “consumer”.

Note how Financial times is talking about “consumer sales”, not total sales of iDevices/Macs and Windows-based devices. There are many non-consumer (e.g. business, government, etc.) sectors that purchase electronics, which is why Gartner’s total projections for 2013 show Windows-based at 354 million and Apple products at 293 million — the difference between 233 million/293 million and 181 million/354 million is due to demand from non-consumer markets.

Now go back and see BGR’s article. Is there anywhere in the article where it mentions that Gartner predicts Apple will sell more devices than Windows-based devices in 2013 to consumers? Nope. The article clearly says “[Gartner] estimates for 2013, Apple (AAPL) devices will outsell Windows devices for the first time this year”, which may not be an outright lie but isn’t very honest either.

So the question is, is this BGR being, well, iBGR and purposefully misleading people for the sake of getting page views? Or is it an honest mistake? For the sake of the little credibility left in the tech blogosphere, I’d hope the latter. I suppose a third explanation could be I’m misunderstanding the whole situation and am totally off-base. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

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9 comments

  1. MikeR

    Nope. Not Apple fanboyism, just hapless, witless, amateurism dressed up as authoritative reportage. A grasp of the facts and an ability to relay them objectively is the essence of journalism. On which basis, this BGR website (which I’ve never heard of until now) would appear to be as much use to technology enthusiasts as a chocolate tea-pot.

    An infinitely higher journalistic standard — albeit it oft-times deliciously irreverent — than that seemingly exemplified in the BGR report (incidentally, why is the Comments section for that article locked down? Or is it just on my pooter?) is evident at El Reg (‘The Register’, as it’s more formally known.)

    From what I can see when browsing through BGR, its breadth and depth is but a fraction of El Reg’s. In fact, I’m not actually sure why anyone would wish to use BGR as any kind of reference resource.

    As for Gartners, El Reg (and its readership) are currently considering the latest pronouncement from that less-than-esteemed research agency:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/04/05/gartner_2012_pc_sales/

    Note the point made there that Gartner can’t even tell the difference between apples and oranges: it’s actually attempting to make meaningful comparison between product totals that are shipped with product totals that are bought. Yeah. Right.

    Gartner may, as you say, be “pretty much respected as a relatively unbiased source” — but there’s not much point in being “respected” for absence of bias when there’s an absence of competence. And for very very many in the IT world, Gartner and its pronouncements / predictions are a joke. Looks like Gartner and BGR deserve each other.

  2. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    [@AT] Yeah, makes a lot more sense. However, I’m of the opinion they are very clever and have an intentional pro-Apple bias simply because it generates a lot more page views which increases advertising dollars.

  3. AT

    I wonder what you will find if you dig deeper into Gartner’s holdings. I wonder how many Apple shares Gartner holds. Inflating numbers before a stock dump unto unwitting shareholders. I think it’s called “A pump and dump.”

  4. Gerry

    Ashraf I’ve come to rely on you for quality software, now I am coming to rely on you for quality, balanced news. People often say the world would come to a halt if the internet was ever taken away, but I think the world would come to a halt if Ashraf was taken away!! Keep up the good work, and as we say in Australia “keep the bastards honest”!