Drawing Bad Conclusions

Peter Kafka, reporting on some video-watching numbers from Freewheel, an online video ad company:

More evidence that Microsoft is increasing its lead in the digital living room race: Data that shows its Xbox gaming console is the most popular non-PC device to watch Web video. That is, more people are watching Web stuff on Microsoft’s machine than on the iPad, iPhone or any Android machine, anywhere. And when it comes to home viewing, competitors like Apple TV, Google TV and Roku are so far behind they’re not even competitors.

That Xbox is proving to be a popular — and growing — platform for video is interesting. But there’s no use comparing it to Apple TV based on Freewheel’s data, because, as Kafka himself points out in his next paragraph:

Now the asterisks: Freewheel is only measuring “professional content” that runs with ads, because that’s how it makes its living. So that means it’s counting stuff from companies like NBC, CBS, ESPN and Vevo, but not YouTube cat videos. It’s also not measuring Netflix usage. On the other hand, this isn’t a poll or sample, but data compiled by the company’s own ad servers.

So the reason Apple TV doesn’t show up in Freewheel’s data is because it doesn’t show any ad-backed video. Freewheel’s data isn’t about online video watching — it’s specifically about ad-backed online video watching. It may well be that Xbox is used for more aggregate video watching than Apple TV, but you can’t make such a comparison using Freewheel’s data.

And it shows you how much ground Google will need to make up as it gets ready to relaunch its Google TV. Ditto for Apple, if and when it ever gets serious about transforming Apple TV into something other than a “hobby.”

Again, Apple TV is irrelevant to any discussion based on Freewheel’s data. And as for making up ground, iOS devices account for 57 percent of Freewheel’s reported usage — double Xbox’s share.

Assuming Freewheel’s data is both accurate and relevant, the conclusion we should draw from it is that iPhone/iPad/iPod iOS devices dominate post-PC ad-based video watching, Xbox is second with half iOS’s share, and Android is a distant third with half-again Xbox’s share. Kafka somehow draws the conclusion that Xbox is winning and Apple TV is way out in crickets-chirping territory.

Monday, 14 May 2012