If you get to define a "market" you can create all sorts of misleading results. Take, for example, this recent blog post from Microsoft, where it tried to show off just how big the company was
using a variety of numbers. Thankfully, Charles Arthur, over at The Guardian went through the numbers in greater detail
to point out where and how they were misleading. One example, highlighted by Glyn Moody
is the claims of Linux server market share, and how it supposedly "failed" to live up to expectations. Here's what Microsoft had in its blog post (which I recreated by hand, because, as Arthur notes, Microsoft's HTML is full of ridiculous crap):
Linux Server market share in 2005. [source]
Predicted Linux Server market share for 2007 (made in 2005). [source]
Actual Linux Server market share, Q4 2009. [source]
Now, this might strikes some of you as not sounding right. After all, most of have have noticed that Linux servers seem to be pretty damn common throughout the world. Most of the biggest online companies in the world use Linux, and it's difficult to think of an online startup that doesn't use Linux. Charles Arthur breaks down how incredibly misleading this is:
This is a really interesting one, because it is a distortion of reality that would have Steve Jobs applauding at its subtlety. You look at those numbers and think: wow, Linux servers really aren't popular. How odd, because you'll notice that you come across Linux servers all over the place: Google, Facebook (which runs F5's Big IP, which is Linux), Yahoo, Amazon, Wordpress.com (which hosts millions of blogs), Twitter... so why such a small number? (The only major site I could quickly find that runs Windows Server is eBay.)
Answer: because those "market share" figures are for Linux server licences sold. Microsoft doesn't count them - and because the market research companies can't count them - if money doesn't change hands. True, this indicates that companies selling Linux servers (principally hardware) aren't making headway against Windows Server. But what it doesn't tell you is what progress Linux is making overall on the web. For that, you need Netcraft. And that suggests that Linux has a really big market share.
In other words, to make these numbers come out this way, Microsoft is pretending that "free" Linux servers are not competitors. This is a silly sort of willful blindness. Obviously, free Linux is a huge competitor to Microsoft's servers, and widely used in place of it. To ignore those numbers to try to suggest Linux has less marketshare is to deny reality.