Retrevo: how not to interpret data

Retrevo's Pie ChartsRetrevo claims to have data that shows that after the iPad Launch, product awareness went from 48% aware, 3% intending to buy to 82% aware and 9% intending to buy. Their take on this is that the “aware but not planning to buy” went from 26% to 52%. Oh no!

This is idiocy. (I was tempted to make fun of retrevo’s name … but why bother?)

To begin with, having 48% awareness and 3% planning to buy for an unannounced product is insanely good. “No and not interested” went from 35% to 18%, which means of the 26% increase in “Yes but I don’t want it”, it’s reasonably safe to assume 17% were previously “No and I won’t buy it” and 9% were “No but I’m interested”. Apple converted 6% of the 36% who were either aware and interested or unaware and interested into planning to buy.

By way of comparison, on May 1 2007, Electronista declared that Survey: many want, few will buy iPhone:

A study of 1,300 people who both own and pay for their cellphones has shown that 77 percent of survey takers were at least partly aware of the iPhone — a feat before the actual launch, the researchers say — only 6 percent of those who responded said they were likely to commit to buying the device within the next year. Two thirds of respondents were even certain that they wouldn’t buy the phone with what they knew.

So, several months after the very well-received launch, a survey showed that of 1300 “qualified” respondents (i.e. people who own and pay for their own cellphones), only 6% planned to buy and 2/3 were certain they wouldn’t buy. Now, as you no doubt recall, the iPhone turned out to be an absolute disaster for Apple and is no longer even on the market, but the iPad’s figures are slightly better (9% of “people” plan to buy, and slightly over half won’t), so maybe it has a shot. Who knows?

In June 2008, TechOn, a Japanese tech site, reported that 91% of Japanese would not buy iPhone. Of course, we all know how the iPhone failed miserably in Japan.

So — I’m having trouble figuring out how any of this is bad for Apple or the iPad.

No SD Card Slot. Smaller screen than Joojoo. Lame.

Ars Technica has a feature article where its various higher profile writers react to the iPad. The headline writer is Jon Stokes, for whose work I have admired in the past, but I have to say several of these folks will be eating their words.

The kids in our circle of friends who wanted DSs two years ago — and got them and didn’t use them — now have Touches. The idea that the DS business won’t be harmed (or hasn’t already been) is laughable. As for the few great games being overwhelmed with lame games — the DS doesn’t have that many great games despite being a dedicated games platform.

Edit: softened my wording and added the link to Gamespot’s top-rated Nintendo DS games of all time. Sadly, the problem is that these days a 9/10 game — on any platform — is merely OK. I’ve got several of the top-rated DS games and frankly, I’d take “Tiny Freecell” on the iPhone over all of them.

It’s the software, stupid.

Post Script

And it’s not just the software. The iPad weighs 1.5lb, which is actually a little heavy compared to a paperback book. According to this formula from, a typical paperback book weighs (L x W x H) / 39 — in pounds, where dimensions are in inches. (I don’t have a scale handy, or I’d just weigh some books.) Let’s put it this way — according to this formula, O’Reilly’s XML in a Nutshell weighs around 2lb while a recent printing of The Bourne Identity weighs around 0.8lb. The Joojoo weighs 2.5lb — fancy curling up in bed to read it? (Yes, they named the product “joojoo” without owning the “” domain — now that’s attention to detail.)

Jon Stokes says he’d rather buy the MSI Tablet they saw at CES, which was described thus: “Like other tablets we’ve been seeing, the device is a bit thicker and heavier than we’d like”. Just so. But this is a trivial thing, right? I mean who cares if it weighs twice as much? It has an SD card slot! Woohoo. One thing I learned the hard way a long time ago — the number one most important feature of any mobile device is weight.

And returning to games. Ben Kuchera makes some good points (e.g. on-screen joysticks are largely failures) and misses some fairly obvious ones: you can put boardgames on the iPad. You can put interactive storybooks. The iPad can hit both a younger demographic than the DS (e.g. I plan to create interactive storybooks for my 22-month-old twins, and see if I can sell them) because it has a more intuitive UI, and an older demographic (because unlike a DS it’s actually useful). Do you think a toddler who grew up with iPads is going to demand to downgrade to a DS?

Prediction: within a month of launching, possibly within a week, possibly even within a day, and quite possibly just based on pre-orders, Apple will announce that it has sold more tablet computers than all other vendors combined.