The Scoble 24-hour rule as it relates to iTunes sales figures

Before I start on this one, let’s get one thing straight: I don’t care how many songs are sold on iTunes. I think you’re better off buying CDs and burning them to your computer. Sure, I use the service — a lot — but what I’m about to do is a rant against absurd reporting, not a defense of the success (or lack-thereof) of the Apple iTunes Store.

Yesterday, I pointed out how a statistics-challenged reporter had mangled the extrapolation of a model-challenged analysis that included the logic-defying claim that iTunes sales dropped by 65% in the first half of 2006. As I’ve said here ad nauseum, giving reporters statistics is like handing a loaded pistol to a three-year-old. (Actually, I haven’t said that, but things like that.) The notion that iTunes sales could have dropped by 65% and a Forrester analyst would be the person to uncover it (and not, for example, being discovered by record companies screaming over why their revenues from Apple had fallen by 65%) is enough to make your BS-dar ping. Despite the dubious nature of the statistic, so-called news services picked it up.

Which brings me to Robert Scoble.

Recently, Robert Scoble introduced what I dubbed the “Scoble 24-hour Rule”: ” Never expect bloggers to do fact checking or original reporting. But if a blog (post) survives 24-hours without anyone refuting the facts? That’s when rumors turn to belief.”

Well, Apple responded: (via: BBC) “Apple has denied a report which claims US sales at its iTunes Music Store fell by 65% in the first half of 2006.”

Update: (via Matt Ingram) The Forrester analyst blogs his surprise that reporters would not understand the nuance of his research and jump to the red-meat he threw them. Note to anyone who is going to ever release a study, survey or analysis: Here’s a point to a long-ago post called, “why you should ignore all news stories involving numbers.”

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