Selasa, 09 Maret 2010

Operating Systems and Market Share Statistics

Did you know that 55% of statistics are made up on the spot? (or maybe it was 68% I don't recall) If you have ever taken a statistics class you know that data is everything, but it's not just about the data itself. Whenever you see numbers you have to ask yourself:
  • Where did these numbers come from?
  • Is it a credible source?
When it comes to market share and operating systems I've heard lots of numbers thrown around over the years and it is difficult to figure out which numbers you should put your faith in on this subject. For instance if your take a peek at the Wikipedia page on the subject it shows the following figures:
  • Windows: 87.67%
  • OSX: 5.9%
  • Linux: 1.1%
  • Other: 2.08%
Those seem like fair figures right? Odds are many will stop there and take them as fact, however take a peak at some numbers from
  • Windows: 92.12%
  • OSX: 5.02%
  • Linux: .98%
  • Other: 1.88%
They don't quite match... Windows is ahead by any rate (which we should expect) but still, take a look at numbers from a couple other websites.
  • Windows: 88.49%
  • OSX: 10.87%
  • Linux: .41%
  • Other: .12%
Wait, what? OSX has over a ten percent market share? That almost twice what our first two sources cite... How about a forth source?
  • Windows: 84.33%
  • OSX: 8.12%
  • Linux: 1.55%
  • Other: 6%
These numbers from W3Counter seem to be the middle ground of the four sources for OSX, however note the fact that their count for the Windows Operating system is much lower and their count for Linux operating systems in much higher. One thing to note about these numbers is the much larger "other" category. Even further curious I find is that Google's Android operating system, is thrown in with "other" on W3Counter even though it is a derivative of Linux.

What are other things to consider? For starters how do these places collect their statistics? What websites do they pull their data from? The content of a webpage very much determines the type of operating system that a person is likely to view it on. For instance these are the operating system statistics from the last month for my own (primarily Linux-focused) blog :
  • Windows: 44.4%
  • OSX: 8.03%
  • Linux: 44.03%
  • Other: 3.54%
Care to guess which operating system that data set is skewed towards because of the page content?

Beyond just looking at the source of web statistics of operating systems, when it comes to the global market as a whole, you have to consider the countless systems that are offline or are rarely connected to the internet. Unlike OSX where you can count the systems by the amount of Apple hardware sold or Mircosoft's Windows where they can count the number of activations, a single Linux ISO download can account for multiple (sometimes even hundreds) of offline (or online) installations.

Truth be told, will we ever truly know the precise market share of each operating system? No, we will not. From my four sources here (and others you can find around the internet) I'm inclined to believe that currently Windows floats somewhere around 88%, OSX around 8%, Linux somewhere close to 2%, and the rest can get lumped into that wonderful "other" category.

What do you think? Know of another credible source for market share statistics regarding operating systems that I didn't mention? Let me know!

~Jeff Hoogland

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