We all know that 83.7 percent of statistics are inaccurate, or just plain made up. In fact, I just made that one up. Well, the specific percentage, anyway. But the truth is, many reported statistics are, in fact, inaccurate. So whenever I see reports like this one from CNET, I take out my salt shaker. It’s difficult to resist reporting on surveys taken by companies that make it their business—literally—to perform surveys. They must know what they’re doing. There must be a scientific method they’re adhering to that produces accurate numbers that we, as journalists or bloggers, can be comfortable reporting to our readers. Well, there’s a survey out now that says iPhone users are the happiest smartphone users out there. But I’m wondering just how true that is.
The survey was performed by a research company called ChangeWave. Based in Rockville, Maryland, they’ve been around for nine years. Well, that’s assuming their Web site is current since they don’t list a founding year and actually say they were “founded nine years ago.” Let’s just hope that was updated recently. ChangeWave says it, “identifies and quantifies ‘change’ in consumer spending behavior, corporate purchasing, industry and company trends…through a weekly series of large sample surveys to its network of 25,000 accredited business, technology and medical professionals – along with early adopter consumers – working in more than 20 industries.”
It sounds pretty impressive, doesn’t it? A network of 25,000 businesses. Wow. That’s quite a network to have built in just nine years. So there must be some merit to this new survey that says 77 percent of iPhone owners are satisfied with their phones, as opposed to just 46 percent of BlackBerry owners, right? But here’s the kicker: They only surveyed 1,009 people who purchased smartphones in the last six months.
Really? Only 1,009 people? First, that number bothers me. Why not an even 1,000? Or even 1,010? What’s with those nine stragglers? Second, just how did they take this survey? Was it one of those things where they have people at the mall with clipboards, accosting shoppers as they walk by? Surely, in a nation that boasts a population of approximately 307 million people (that is, until the 2010 Census results come out), and of which nearly 11 million are iPhone users alone, a respectable company whose mission is to perform surveys could find more than 1,009 people to ask about their level of smartphone satisfaction.
Let me be clear. I’m no statistician. There may be a very good reason for the very small number of people surveyed. In addition, the survey results really aren’t all that surprising, and would probably remain pretty consistent if they had surveyed 10,000 or 100,000 smartphone users.
I just find it odd that a company would publish a survey like this, with such a small pool of respondents, and that it would be picked up by any news outlet, traditional or otherwise. If surveys like this mean anything to you, and hold any sway in how you spend your money or what you choose to buy, I would just recommend doing a little more research on your own. Heck, you could probably survey the same number of people, if not more, via Twitter.