Establishing stats

Headlines today say “Silverlight now on 60% of Internet-connected devices” and “MIX10: Microsoft Silverlight lands on 60 percent of Internet devices” and such.

But the sourcing is left blank… some guy on a stage said so, and so newspapers are repeating it. That’s not good journalism. Anytime you read any story, you have to ask yourself “How do I know what I think I know?”

I know of two services which measure Silverlight: Travis Collins’, and RIAStats went through a significant sampling shift towards the end of last year, roughly doubling its baseline levels, and now reports SL3 at 53%. StatOwl shows SL3 at 38%. (Because of default auto-upgrades, I’m assuming any remaining SL1 or SL2 installations are broken.)

If an exec stands on a stage and gives you numbers to repeat, that exec has a responsibility to show why you should believe those numbers, and how you can defend them from challenges. Repeating those numbers without curiosity does not do the planet any favors….

If they can get Silverlight up into Shockwave/QuickTime levels of consumer support, then mazel tov… now that all this “Flash-killer!” adversarial jive is behind us it’s easier to just wish them success in their goal of helping skilled .NET coders deliver to wider audiences.

But — the newspapers need to source their info. Otherwise they’re just giving us beliefs. “How do you know what you say you know?” must be asked.

3 Responses to Establishing stats

  1. Rich Morey says:

    I’m surprised that the idea of Silverlight didn’t pop up during all the “Flash bad, Apple good” talk surrounding the iPad not supporting Flash. Does Silverlight run on an Apple devices? (Including a regular OS X Mac?)
    [jd sez: There was some talk last month about “Why isn’t anyone flaming Silverlight?”, but most of the iPad/”HTML5″ talk needs to distinguish itself against Flash’s realworld support, so that’s where most of the flames went. (Apple’s proprietary Safari browser for iThings only permits the Apple QuickTime plugin… no Silverlight, Java, Flash, 3D, etc.)]

  2. Flash is dead. says:
    Start panicking now, Dowdell and do look for a new job soon. IE9 supports SVG. Flash is dead dead dead, Flash team will no longer have any reason to exist.
    [jd sez: Actually, anonymous flamers are “dead, dead, dead”. Your needs must be great to resort to such tactics. (If ever developing for SVG, you need to examine your audience to determine _which_features_ of any general spec they support, and in which ways… saying “IE9 supports SVG” is the same as saying “Wonder Bread builds strong bodies”… too high-level to be useful, ’cause the devil’s in the details.)]

  3. Glad people are finding RIAStats useful. This article is correct that RIAStats experienced a major shift in sampling size late last year. We went from about 20k to 700k samples per day. Use the “Top Sites Column Chart” selection to see the spread of Flash, Silverlight and Java across the top 10 contributing sites, and their percent contribution to the overall sample size.
    RIAStats works because site owners add the RIAStats sampling script their own site. They receive a personalized RIAStats reporting interface, for free. They’re able to get exact RIA plugin deployment numbers for their sites, and the community expands its understanding of the topic.
    Travis Collins