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Nielsen recants app-less iPad figures

Earlier this week, market research firm Nielsen released the results of a survey in which it claimed that while owners of Apple’s iPad tablet devices spend time with their content, fully one third of them had never downloaded an app. Now Nielsen is recanting that number, saying the true figure for iPad owners who have not downloaded an app is more like one in ten.

Nielsen now says its survey data finds that 91 percent of iPad owners have downloaded an app. Nielsen has amended its figures with a brief note: “This article and the related download have been amended to reflect updates to the percentage of iPad users in the survey downloading apps.”

So far, the company has not offered any explanation for the revision.

Nielsen’s analysis of the top paid application downloads remains unchanged, with the company saying 62 percent of paid downloaded applications are games, and some 54 percent are books. Rounding out the top five categories are music, shopping, and news applications.

Nielsen’s gaffe—and the wide reporting of Nielsen’s initial figures, including here at Digital Trends—highlights the fragility of much of the data and figures that are widely accepted as gospel truth in the industry. Although few doubt that Nielsen understands the responsibility it has taken on itself for reporting its data, analysis, and methods as accurately as possible, it’s important to remember that market analyses based on contemporary consumer survey methodology and self-reported sales figures are just a group’s best shot at an educated guess. Comparatively few groups attempt to quantify trends in the technology industry, and—with a couple exceptions—few studies attempt to study the same markets independently. One little slip of a decimal point, and the “facts” suddenly become all wrong…assuming they were ever facts in the first place.

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