Thursday, June 08, 2006

Dean Bubley: Nonsense Surveys

Bubley found some of the data interesting, but one chart caught his eye in particular, the "% who regularly use MP3 function on their mobile phone". It lists two options "Yes" and "Function not available".... presumably the rest being "No" or "Don't know". For India, Yes = 88% and Not Available = 4%." He states:

Yes, that's right - 96% of all mobile phones in India have MP3 players built in. And 88% use the capability on a regular basis. Allegedly.
He then goes in for the kill and points out that "ICM Research interviewed 5,500 respondents aged 18 – 35 years old across eleven countries between 27 February and 18 March 2006. There were 500 interviews conducted in each of the following countries: Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Spain, Saudi Arabia, UK and USA. All interviews were conducted online with the exception of Saudi Arabia where interviews were conducted via telephone." He writes:
So they've selected an audience that has a PC and Internet access. And that is solely focused on the more "sophisticated" age group. In this article, it suggests that India, a country with a population about a billion, has fewer than 5m PC households. (It also has the fascinating line "Cyber café’s are the primary mode of access. 60-70% of internet users access the net at cyber cafés"... but do you seriously expect people who pay-per-hour for online time to spend it filling in surveys?). And how about this line "Almost half (44%) of respondents are already using their mobile phone as their primary camera." What exactly does "primary" mean? The one they take most photos on? The one they take their most important photos on? The one they carry the most? The one they'd pick out of their pocket if they were carrying both a phone & camera at the same time? The one they show other people pictures on most?
Bubley concludes that:
Bottom line - if you're a vendor thinking about using a survey... make sure you have someone appropriately cynical check the questions, survey methodology, and results, before putting them out into the public domain - or, worse still, use them as the basis for business plans & investments.