One million, 2 million, 10 million - they are just numbers. Take, for instance, the latest numbers released by Microsoft regarding Windows 7 licenses. Microsoft claims that it has already licensed 51 million corporate copies of Windows 7. Many people outside the Microsoft camp dispute this number, citing what happened with Vista. Although corporations could have updated to the release as part of their volume licensing agreements, a large percentage of corporations did not. This grossly overestimates the number of seats licensed.
Corporations purchase volume license agreements to guarantee them updates, and it covers them from a compliance perspective. Microsoft has counted these licenses toward the sales of Windows 7. Some analysts put the number of Windows 7 licenses as high as 177 million. However, this includes consumer seats as well. Again, we have learned that these numbers don't accurately reflect the actual number used.
Microsoft isn't the only company to disagree on the numbers. Gartner recently released estimated second-quarter Mac sales. Gartner claims that sales were up 2.5 percent from the same period last year. IDC, on the other hand, said Mac sales were down 12.4 percent from the same time period. Apple itself has predicted a downturn in Mac sales by 3 percent from last year. They are up, they are down -- who do you believe?
I follow the "numbers business" quite closely. From a security perspective, the more people using a product, the more attention it will receive, both negatively and positively. For example, as Mac sales increase, the probability that hackers will write more malware for the platform will increase. On the other side, as sales increase, manufacturers will give more attention to supporting the product.
I am not a strictly by-the-numbers kind of person. However, a few years ago, a company I was working with wanted to purchase one of those combination phone/PDA units. I was able to show that the technology was not going to be around very long by pointing out how sales were taking a sharp dive. At the same time, BlackBerry sales were skyrocketing and it was a much more viable technology.
I am not advocating deciding what technology to bring in or phase out based on sales -- not by any means. I am only suggesting that we look at it as an indicator to avoid jumping on a sinking ship. As more and more manufacturers release their second-quarter results, I am sure there will be more exaggeration. Just be careful whose numbers you use.