Apple: Widely-misreported NPD data does not provide complete picture of U.S. smartphone market

invisibleSHIELD case for iPad“Apple Inc. on Tuesday questioned recent data showing smartphones using Google’s Android operating system surpassing iPhone sales in the United States, and said there are no signs that the competition is gaining in the smartphone market,” Gabriel Madway reports for Reuters.

MacDailyNews Take: There’s nothing wrong with NPD’s data per se. The problem stems from idiot reporters and bloggers who can’t read and/or can barely write and/or are too intent on concocting sensational “news” that fails to match reality. Please see our report of the NPD data here: NPD survey: Excluding business sales, RIM has 36%, Android 28%, iPhone 21% in U.S. smartphone share – May 10, 2010

Madway continues, “Apple said the NPD data didn’t provide a complete picture. ‘This is a very limited report on 150,000 U.S. consumers responding to an online survey and does not account for the more than 85 million iPhone and iPod touch customers worldwide,’ said Apple spokeswoman Natalie Harrison. She said the iPhone far outsells Android on a worldwide basis, and pointed to a report from IDC last week which showed the iPhone with a 16.1 percent global market share, behind No. 2 RIM and No. 1 Nokia Oyj. ‘We had a record quarter with iPhone sales growing by 131 percent and with our new iPhone OS 4.0 software coming this summer, we see no signs of the competition catching up any time soon,’ Harrison said.”

Apple has sold more than 51 million iPhones since it started selling the device in 2007,” Madway reports.

Full article, under yet another headline that fails to state what is actually being reported (“Apple questions Android smartphone surge”), here.

MacDailyNews Take: Please see the following articles:
IDC: Apple posts strong growth in global smartphone market share as Nokia stays flat, RIM declines – May 07, 2010
comScore: Apple iPhone grabs 25.3% share of U.S. smartphone market – February 09, 2010

You’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank all that high on the truth meter… Some of the craziest claims can quickly claim traction… All of this is not only putting new pressures on you, it is putting new pressures on our country and on our democracy… We can’t stop these changes, but we can adapt to them. Education can fortify you, as it did earlier generations, to meet the tests of your own time.U.S. President Barack Obama, May 09, 2010

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Brawndo Drinker” and “Lynn W.” for the heads up.]


  1. MDN, sorry to say this, but your biases are getting out of hand, to the point that it’s coming to the point where it’s hard to take anything you write seriously.

    1. You cannot selectively pick one market research tool as better than another just because one confirms your bias and another does not. I do not know specifically what may be right or wrong about NPD’s statistical methodologies, but as long as an online polling service collects its information using appropriate demographic modeling, then it is no less accurate than a phone call. In fact, there is evidence that it is actually more accurate than phone poling.

    2. A population of n=150,000 in polling is way beyond what is necessary for statistical analysis of a population. In fact, I can derive conclusions on the US population of 350 million people with less than 4000 data points. Those conclusions will have 95% or more reliability.

    3. I contend that the NPD data may actually have some issues because handset choice is often not a choice of the consumer but of the mobile carrier. A subset of just ATT will give us better conclusions.

    NPD needs to lay off the shrill polemic and stick with providing data and analysis. Your analysis of the NPD research is not analysis, but sounds like whining. I’m wondering if MDN is really a tool of Apple, because unbiased reporting is not found here.

    Give a real criticism of AppleTV and what a piece of garbage it is, and maybe I’ll give you some credence in your arguments. But until then, don’t even bother to pretend being an unbiased news source.

  2. It is disingenuous for MDN to accuse someone of misrepresenting data and drawing out-of-context conclusions and then do the same thing to the President. I say this as someone who is neither a Republican nor Democrat, nor an Obama enthusiast. But he does deserve a chance to express himself on a point without your partisan and intentional misreading. Disappointing, because MDN is otherwise so insightful and good at finding hypocrisy in others.

  3. @Judge Bork

    “NPD’s survey data does not provide a complete picture of the U.S. smartphone market, either.”

    No survey provides a complete picture, but this it not the point.

    The point here is how correctly the headline summarizes what Apple has said. Apple spokeswoman Natalie Harrison did not comment on U.S. smartphone market, she commented on how iPhone is selling globally.

    That’s why the headline “Apple: Widely-misreported NPD data does not provide complete picture of U.S. smartphone market” fails to match reality. Apple did not give such a comment. MDN gave that comment. Judge Bork gave that comment. Not Apple.

    Why do I care whether a headline matches reality or not. Because of these beautiful sentences:
    “The problem stems from idiot reporters and bloggers who can’t read and/or can barely write and/or are too intent on concocting sensational “news” that fails to match reality.” “Full article, under yet another headline that fails to state what is actually being reported …”

  4. You know I really do not understand what the big deal about Android gaining market share in the US. It is completely a non story. With Android on many different phones across all carriers and at many different price points (some even free) – it would only be news if they were not gaining market share. At this point until Apple adds another US carrier it may be hard for them to gain US market share.

  5. @ LeftCoastDude,

    The methodology is flawed because it polls people who bought phones from The Carriers, AT&T, Verizon, etc., and from the big box stores, Best Buy & etc.

    That means that the Apple Stores’ customers were not part of the survey. That’s a lot of iPhones that the survey is ignoring.

    As such, the poll is invalid no matter how big the sample.

    Secondly, Apple TV is not a piece of garbage. I can play, wirelessly, on my Widescreen TV and surround sound stereo, over 1.5 TB of movies, music, TV Series and photos, not to mention audio and video podcasts and YouTube garbage without making a single iTunes Store purchase.

    I can do that with 2 or 3 clicks on the Apple remote. It blows away people who see it for the first time. It is a Movie Jukebox.

  6. According to IDC, RIM shipt about 10+m of smartphones, while Apple shipt 8.5 million — that is worldwide.

    NPD survey says it is 36% against 21% for USA.

    Domestic Apple’s sales are about 40%. This means up to 4 million iPhones were sold in USA in 2010Q1 (calendar); confirmed by AT&T;iPhone activation numbers.

    Thus if NPD survey asserts that there were 28% against 21% in favour of Android, then AndroidOS phones were sold in quantity like 5-5.5 million in USA?


  7. OMG iPhone sales are weak when everybody knows that a new version will be released in two months. color me shocked.

    The nine month old iPhone on one network is keeping up with 12 new android sets sold by every carrier in the usa.

    It does however show that Apple must end the AT&T;exclusive. There is simple no more room for Apple to increase sales with just AT&T;.

  8. I don’t get what all of the fuss is about:

    1. Android “outsells” iPhone for 1 quarter with the following caveats:
    A. It was a survey and not actual phones sold that counted.
    B. Carriers have been giving away free Androids.

    How can you count the giveaways and how can you outsell, if you’re only counting a survey?

    Confusing data.

  9. LeftCoastDude is right, with n=150,000 the statistics should be reliable. However, here are some problems I see with their sample.
    1) It is online survey. It is not a true random sampling. How did they get the name and email to contact the participant.
    2) As with any poll, timing is everything. Did they collect the data from 150,000 people in a week or a day. Another related question is, how many set of 150,000 people did they collect, before they got the answer they wanted (How to lie with statistics, Chapter 7).
    3) Another possibility is, if someone gets an email for the survey on iPhone, would the bother to answer on their tiny screen or does the survey web site work on iPhone? People on Android might, just because they still use PC to read most of their emails. I know I stopped answering the surveys since I got my iPhone, because they don’t fit very well on the screen and it is so easy to delete them. Hmmm…. may be its my fault for not answering the surveys…

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