Bad metrics

In the 90’s and early 2000’s, Apple fans used to overwhelmingly reject the idea that marketshare was an indicator of product quality. They had no choice — otherwise they’d have had to accept the argument that Microsoft simply made better things.1

On Friday, John Gruber posted a link to an article he wrote in 2013 as a rebuttal to the notion that Apple was starting a decline already after the loss of Steve Jobs as product filter extraordinaire. He ends Friday’s piece with the following:

Today, five years to the day after I wrote that, Apple’s stock price is up 185 percent — it’s trading at nearly 3x the price from March 2013.

It’s a bit stunning to me that someone with Gruber’s knowledge of Apple history would find this reassuring of anything other than the fact that popularity, stock price, and marketshare mean absolutely nothing in terms of product quality and true company health. Bozo Ballmer made Microsoft richer than ever.

Meanwhile, typing on iOS is an experience that is getting worse every day, and Siri borders on just above useless 6 1/2 years after its release. iOS is still a far more preferable option to the alternatives, but there’s another way of phrasing that. As I said to my friend Peter today, “the only thing worse than iOS is all the others.”

Honestly, Gruber’s argument could be used to prove the superiority of Donald Trump and the socially tone-deaf GOP: they won, so clearly they’re better.


  1. You’ll never get me to agree to that one, even now. Windows is a hot mess, even in 2018.