Don't you just love surveys? I love the way questions can be phrased so that the answers can be presented in a way that, well, really skews the message. (Just take a look at my headline.)
Case in point: A Piper-Jaffrey survey released this week found that 17 percent of teenagers surveyed currently own an iPhone and, more importantly, 37 percent say they plan on buying an iPhone in the next six months. Don't get me wrong - those are impressive numbers, especially when you consider that those numbers have grown consistently over the last eight quarters.
But dare I flip these numbers and point out the other metrics? If 17 percent of teens own an iPhone, that means 83 percent don't. Do they own something else - like an Android device? Better yet, if 37 percent of teens say they plan on buying an iPhone in the next six months, doesn't that mean that 63 percent of teens don't plan on buying an iPhone in the next six months?
Forgive me for asking some additional questions, but here goes:
How many teens were surveyed?
How many of them already own smartphones? What's the breakdown of the other devices?
How many of them are planning to buy a smartphone in the next six months? How many plan to buy something other than an iPhone? Can we get a breakdown by device? Or was that question not asked?
How many of them don't plan on buying anything at all?
Again, I'm not trying to take anything away from Apple and its relationship with the teen market. But this is hardly a balanced survey. I'd rather see what teens think about smartphones, in general, and the competitive battle between brands.
I have two teenagers in my house - and neither of them have iPhones. Granted, I wasn't about to buy them iPhones - but they haven't asked for them, either. In fact, I can't think of one teenager in their circle of friends who has an iPhone.
True story: I was sitting next to a mom at my daughter's softball game yesterday and she pulled out an iPhone. We had a friendly exchange about smartphones and she mentioned that her 19-year-old daughter had done extensive research on smartphones and decided that she wanted an Android device. Now, her 15-year-old is also asking for an Android - even though Mom carries an iPhone and Dad has a Blackberry. I heard the same story a month ago about the older brother (age 17) of my son's best friend. He saved his own money and bought a Droid 2.
When it comes to surveys, context is everything. I'm not questioning the results of the survey - but isn't kind of irresponsible for news outlets to put up big headlines that scream "Teens love iPhone" when, in fact, more than 80 percent said they don't own one and more than 63 percent said they don't plan on buying one anytime soon? And don't even get me started on how every report I could find on this survey used the exact same chart (included below) to illustrate the point.