Microsoft spokesman Frank Shaw recently caused a major stir due to his questionable use of statistical analysis for his company. While no one disputes the 355 million PC sales this year compared to the 7.1 million in iPad sales (though some might take issue with the comparison) some of the other fast facts drew fire.

“I hate to join the embarrassing parade of tech reporters commenting on this item, but I was a little irked by the section comparing newspaper subscriptions to Xbox Live subscriptions,” writes Brier Dudley. “To show how big Xbox Live has become, Shaw compared its subscribers (23 million) with Netflix (14 million subscribers) and the top 25 U.S. daily newspapers (16 million). Xbox Live is a good success story for Microsoft, but it’s an apples to oranges comparison with newspapers.”

“By using the tally of the top 25 papers, he missed two-thirds of the newspaper subscribers in this country. The total is more like 46 million paying subscribers, and 100 million readers daily. That long tail is significant – it’s how a majority of people in the country still get their news. If you want to get even more specific, Xbox Live links subscriptions to individuals, while newspaper subscriptions are per household, so the 100 million readers is probably a better comparison. Xbox Live is an international service, so the comparison should be to global newspaper subscriptions, which for the time being are probably 20 times greater than Xbox Live.”

The newspaper business was a $164 billion industry globally last year, compared with $55 billion for the video game industry, and more than 500 million people buy a newspaper every day. Maybe newspapers should play up the fact that they’re delivering interactive games (think Sudoku and crosswords) and entertainment as well as news.

Source: Seattle Times