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Poorly Drawn Graphics Mislead

Nielsen smartphone purchasing data graphic skews reader’s perceptions

Many “readers” are really “lookers.” They quickly scan the infographic while ignoring the text and the numbers — after all who has time for all that “slow news”? This is why it is critical to get the infographic right. Editors should devote as much time to making sure the infographic is correct as they do to the rest of the story.

Here Nielsen’s infographic skews the numbers presented in the text and the infographic radically skews the numbers further. The text says…

Android continues to lead the smartphone market in the U.S., with a majority of smartphone owners (51.8%) using an Android OS handset. Over a third (34.3%) of smartphone owners use an Apple iPhone, and Blackberry owners represented another 8.1 percent of the smartphone market.

The text on the infographic rounds 51.8% down to 51% and rounds 8.1% up to 9%. What is Nielsen up to? But it gets worse. The infographic skews the data much further.

Below I superimposed my own stacked bar over the top of Nielsen’s infographic. Putting ruler to screen reveals that Android’s 52% share is shrunk to 34%; Apple’s 34% share is shrunk to 24%; RIM’s 9% share expands to 16% and all the other’s 6% share expands to a whopping 28% of the visual space. Anyone relying on this infographic to get their news will miss the important insight that only Android and Apple matter.

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