Collected forecasts

The one thing that’s certain about forecasts is that they never come true. That doesn’t mean they’re useless. In mature markets, sales don’t change overnight and the error usually is marginal. In emerging markets, the hockey stick forecast can be too early and/or too high. By collecting curves of two or three years in a row their reliability will become clear.
Market research companies love new markets with uncertain and dynamic outlooks, since that’s when they can sell and sell again their research reports to product marketeers who need to justify their new product business and investements with company management. In fact “in every new business area there’s a period in which the only people making money are market researchers and conference organizers”. (I call this Odijk’s rule)

An alternative to buying a complete well-digestible report is to collect the snippets of data that appears in newspapers, press releases of market research firms etc. Analyze and compare data from various sources and moments in time, and most often a good picture of the market arises.
This is a page of snippets (just started: I forecast that the data will double every week, for the next 4 weeks) . See if you can get the big picture.

btw: For, often funny, forecasting mistakes see the post “wrong predictions”

Mobile devices, software and Apps

Tablet sales

The next graph by IHS iSupply is looking back, so these numbers are an estimate of actual sales.

And here’s a prediction from IDC:

Chart: Worldwide Media Tablet Shipments Split by OS Historical and Forecast* 2010 – 2016 (Units in Millions)Description: Kindle’s latest performance threatens the iPad’s future.Tags: IDC, Tracker, Worldwide, Media Tablets, Media Tablet, OS, Android, iOS, Apple, iPad,Author: IDCcharts powered by iCharts


Apparently, the ww sales of apps are 11.7 B$ in 2012. If that’s true, the number for 2015 number of $ 37 B makes sense. A further check shows that Gartner states 15.1 B$ for 2011, an even bigger market already.

Wireless technologies

Devices with embedded wireless local area networking (WLAN) capability

Below figure comes from a study published in April 2011 by IHS iSuppli

The growth in WLAN-enabled devices has been led by cell phones, with 512.8 million units projected to ship this year. Mobile PCs are a distant number two, with 230.1 million set to ship in 2011.
Future WLAN-enabled device growth, however, will be spurred by newer categories of embedded devices. IHS iSuppli contends that automotive installations will lead the growth curve, with a compound annual growth rate of 98.2 per cent from 2010 to 2015. WLAN-enabled televisions will be close behind, with a growth rate of 77.8 per cent during the same period.

More to follow ….

Adages, Rules, Laws and humour

An adage is a short but memorable saying which holds some important fact of experience that is credible through its long use or broad endorsement.  Somes adages are interesting observations, practical or ethical guidelines, or skeptical comments on life; ohers are products of folk wisdom. When engineers or behavioural scientists coin them, they are often called “laws” in imitation of physical laws, “rules” or “principles.
Some of the adages that I grew up with, like Peter’s principle, Parkinson’s law, Hofstadter’s law and others, are endangered species with younger generations, despite their ability to provide well-targeted and often humorous explanations of everyday situations and “facts of life”. To avoid extinction, this post is a collection of adages that I like. Have fun!


Parkinson’s Law: Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion

articulated by Cyril Northcote Parkinson in the book Parkinson’s Law: The Pursuit of Progress (1958). He derived the dictum from his extensive experience in the British Civil Service where he finds that the number of employees inside a bureaucracy rose by 5-7% per year “irrespective of any variation in the amount of work (if any) to be done”. He identifies two forces for this phenomenon: (1) “An official wants to multiply subordinates, not rivals” and (2) “Officials make work for each other.”

This is a basic adage for understanding and dealing with burocracies (in government and large companies). Usually a positive feedback system exists where managers that take action (i.e. create new work for subordinates) are preferred, and manager rewards are proportional to their responsibility ( i.e. the number of subordinates).
Most job cutting announcements by companies shows ignorance of Parkinson’s law. Often, companies state they are “trimming the fat” meaning they gained Parkisonian weight and thus didn’t manage their headcount. Often also, soon after the cutting is done, new hiring starts and new Parkisonian fat is developed. Cutting work by stating priorities is the true remedy.


Peter’s Principle: employees tend to rise to their level of incompetence.

formulated by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull in their 1969 book “The Peter Principle”. The principle states that in a hierarchy, members are promoted so long as they work competently. Their last promotion is to a position at which they are no longer competent.

Another adage that explains burocratic phenomena. Incompetent managers take wrong decisions and hire subordinates that won’t challenge them, and that’s how quality diminishes.

Generals always fight the last war.

a wisdom without an identified originator
This adage not just relates to the army but also to businesses with fast developing technologies. When a manager’s own experience is rooted in a previous technology, he can have the wrong intuition about today’s technology and competition. No wonder you then lose the current “war”.


Hofstadter’s Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take Hofstadter’s Law into account

Hofstadter’s Law was a part of Douglas Hofstadter’s 1979 book Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. The subordinate clause is a wonderful representation of the book’s major theme of recursion
It’s interesting that it took so long for someone to formulate this well known difficulty of accurately estimating the amount of time it will take to complete tasks of any substantial complexity.


Stigler’s Law: No scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer

proposed by University of Chicago statistics professor Stephen Stigler in his 1980 publication “Stigler’s law of eponymy”.
Stigler named the sociologist Robert K. Merton as the discoverer of “Stigler’s law”, and thus consciously made his law exemplify itself.


There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Uses of the phrase date back to the 1930s and 1940s, but its first appearance is unknown. It was popularized by Robert Heinlein’s SF novel The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and Milton Friedman’s 1975 book with the same title. The bio-ecologist Barry Commoner used this concept as the last of his famous “Four Laws of Ecology”.

Parkinson’s Law of triviality:organizations give disproportionate weight to trivial issues

Also known as bikeshedding; First mentioned in C. Northcote Parkinson’s 1958 book.
Parkinson dramatizes his law of triviality with a committee’s deliberations on an “atomic reactor”, contrasting it to deliberation on a bicycle shed. As he put it, “The time spent on any item of the agenda will be in inverse proportion to the sum involved.” A reactor is used because it is so vastly expensive and complicated that an average person cannot understand it, so one assumes that those that work on it understand it. On the other hand, everyone can visualize a bicycle shed, so planning one can result in endless discussions.