Apple and those LOL numbers

“Now even The New York Times is misusing the ‘law of large numbers,'” Philip Elmer-DeWitt reports for Fortune.

“We can forgive the talking heads on CNBC for blathering on about mathematical ‘laws’ of which they are totally ignorant,” P.E.D. reports. “What do they know? But when James B. Stewart, a Pulitzer-prize winning professor of business journalism at Columbia University writes about Apple (AAPL) “running up against the law of large numbers” in The New York Times, it’s time for corrective action.”

P.E.D. reports, “For the record, the law of large numbers — once shortened to “LOL numbers” (as in “laugh out loud”) by a wag in our comment stream — has absolutely nothing to do with how big a company has grown.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Dan K.” and “Edward Weber” for the heads up.]

Related article:
Apple looks to break the law of large numbers – February 24, 2012


  1. In normal cases this law applies to most companies; but Apple has managed to defy the law of economic gravity and this has upset many people whose minds have been ossified on the old paradigm. In fact Apple has long ago ignored the laws as dictated by Wall Street and has been raked over the coals for such heresy. At times the world is riddled with paradoxes and Apple has proven that contradiction of the normal is possible.

  2. From the source article:

    First formulated in the 16th century and rigorously proven by Jacob Bernoulli in 1713, it states that the probability of an experiment — the average roll of a die, say — achieving the expected result increases the more times the experiment is performed.

    This is actually misleading in the way it was stated:

    – Every roll of a dice, using the above example, has IDENTICAL probabilities of a particular result. That never changes.

    What is actually being discussed is the ability to get a desired result through a SERIES of repeated rolls of the dice. The probability each time for a dice of the desire result remains 1 out of 6 every time. But you are proceeding through a probably series of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, etc., making the probablity of getting your number 2 out of 6 in 12 rolls, 3 out of 6 in 18 rolls, 4 out of 6 in 24 rolls, etc.

    The stupidity of even siting LOL is that it’s only about percentages of GROWTH. It is ignoring the fact that consistent PROFITS is an astounding accomplishment already. With sufficient profits, BFD if those profits are continuing to grow. They can remain in a steady state and still make everyone concerned $money$, which is the point of the game of finance. Everything beyond that is sprinkles on top. Your cupcake is still great without them.

    1. Actually, the law they’re quoting is called either Bernoulli’s Theorem or the Weak Law of Large Numbers which just says that the sample means from a random samples tend to the population mean as the number of samples gets large.

      My favourite is the Law of Truly Large Numbers: With a large enough sample, any outrageous thing is likely to happen (Diaconis & Mosteller, 1989). This law applies to postings on MDN. 😆

  3. Apple already has most of the smartphone market’s profit and must now rely on the market itself to grow. Luckily it’ll do just that, particularly in China.

    And of course the iPad is only just getting started. The only threat there is the remote possibility of competitors getting their acts together.

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