Wednesday, June 08, 2005

itunes NOT more popular than p2p

a new study came out comparing p2p to paid music download services, and it's already being misinterpreted and misread.

the headline in pcworld/macworld (and other places) is ITunes More Popular Than Peer-to-Peer... but simply reading the article shows this to be false.

A new report from market research company The NPD Group shows that Apple's ITunes Music Store is proving to be more popular than many peer-to-peer file sharing services.

According to NPD's MusicWatch Digital Service, ITunes is in a dead heat with P-to-P service LimeWire, and is beating out other services like Kazaa and IMesh.
At the top of the list was WinMX, a Windows P-to-P service that NPD claims is used by 2.1 million households. ITunes and LimeWire saw use by 1.7 million households. Kazaa came in fourth, followed by BearShare, Ares Galaxy, Napster, Morpheus, Real Player Store, and IMesh.

so not only is iTunes not more popular than peer-to-peer, it's not even #1 on the list. winmx has more users than itunes.

and of course, p2p isn't just one program: it's a community made up of users of dozens of different programs. in order to fairly compare whether itunes or p2p is "more popular", you would need to compare the number of itunes users with the number of p2p users overall, not the number of users of each p2p program factored independently. if you add up those numbers, p2p wins by a factor of at least 10.

i also note that bittorrent is not on the list. i suppose that could be because bt has fewer users than the "top 10" listed by the survey. but i'm skeptical, and suspect this is more likely a flaw in the survey.

then there's a question of methodology. where did they get these numbers?

The survey was conducted by collecting data from Windows-based PCs used by 40,000 online panelists. The information compares March 2005 to March 2004 household activity of consumers who had acquired digital music either through paid services or P-to-P file sharing services.

40,000 online "panelists"? who the hell are these panelists? how were they chosen? does anyone really believe that all 40,000 of them were entirely honest about their downloading habits? (p2p has been demonized and unauthorized downloading is still technically illegal.) does anyone really believe that those 40,000 users are representative of the general online community?

the npd group itself uses the somewhat-less-false headline iTunes More Popular Than Most Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Services, which you can at least pretend is true if you accept the survey results. so who the hell is the npd group?

The NPD Group provides global sales and marketing information that helps our clients make more informed, fact-based decisions in order to optimize their businesses. Many of the world's most successful companies rely on us for insight on what is selling, where and why so that they can understand and leverage the latest trends.

Since 1967 we have introduced market information and its far-reaching benefits across a wide range of vertical markets, including apparel, appliances, automotive, beauty, cellular, consumer electronics, food and beverage, foodservice, footwear, housewares, imaging, information technology, movies, music, software, toys, travel, video games, and more.

yeah, they're a marketing firm. and i can pretty much guarantee you that "the industry" paid for this survey.

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