Deceptive Use of Statistics in Headlines

I was looking at the Apple stock chart on, and saw two apparently contradictory headlines listed:


I knew that it was likely just a case of using different comparison time frames, but it still looked amusing!

As I looked at the two articles, my suspicions were validated. The article on the left was describing a Q4-Q1 drop of 33%, not all that surprising given the iPhone 5 launch and holiday season. The second article was describing year-over-year Q1 growth of 25%, which seems pretty good.

Isn’t it nice how you carefully select which stats to use in your headline, in order to drive the perception you want?

As Twain said: Lies, damned lies, and statistics!

Vista is a failure? Mac is a success?

This post was prompted by a post I saw on the WordPress “TagSurfer” about the current market share between various operating systems and OS versions. I cannot find that post again, so I looked up the stats at, and the numbers looked much the same as I recall from the post.

What jumps out at me from the stats is this: Vista is at 9.19% (after about a year in the wild), and Mac is at 6.81%. And yet, Vista is widely perceived as a failure, and Mac is perceived to be on a roll. How much of a roll can Mac be on if they still do not have the market penetration of a new OS that everyone supposedly hates?

What these numbers say to me is that marketers, fan boys, and other obsessives can spin the numbers to say whatever they want you to buy!