Friday Slide: Fact-Checking Steve Jobs

Wednesday was Apple’s Fall 2010 Media Event. Jobs stepped onto the stage and raised his arms to guide his followers in chant. The smell of chicken blood was thick in the air. Just kidding.

The Event was pleasant enough. It unveiled some routine tweaks and updates without popping anyone’s heads off their shoulders. I’m glad to see that the iPod Shuffle is getting its face buttons back, because really, what was up with that? Some of us have little ears that spit out Apple’s buds the minute we try to insert them. My $10 Sony wrap-around headphones aren’t pretty, but they’re mine, dammit.

The next generation iPod Touch generated some discussion for a couple of reasons. The new Touch will feature a front-facing camera, HD video recording, an iPhone 4-grade retina screen and Facetime, which will be accessible over Wi-Fi.

Jobs also took a moment to puff up his chest about the iPod Touch’s selling power. According to his figures, Apple owns 50% of the handheld gaming market alone thanks to the iPod Touch, which– he claims– has outsold the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP combined.

What can I really say except “the blustering continues.” I refer you, yet again, to the article I wrote a couple of weeks back highlighting a Sony PSP attack ad against the iPhone. Business is business and the competition must be addressed– and I’m not saying that the iPhone/iPod Touch is not worthy competition for the Nintendo DS and PSP. I’m just wondering why Jobs feels like he has to fling around numbers. Inflated numbers that were debunked within minutes, no less.

Jobs claims that the iPod Touch alone has outsold the Nintendo DS and PSP on a worldwide basis. At the very same event, he gave us some exact numbers: Approximately 120 million iOS devices have been sold. That includes the iPhone, the iPod Touch, and the iPad in all their iterations. But a quick search on Google reveals that the Nintendo DS has sold 132 units since the first iteration was released in 2004. The PSP has sold about 60 million units. Added together–well, that’s considerably more than what the iOS has sold to date.

So why go ahead and make such a sky-high claim?

Moreover, it’s questionable whether or not the sales numbers for the iPod Touch or the iPhone can be stacked against the DS’s and the PSP’s. People buy the Nintendo DS to play games. They buy iOS devices for music, cellphone capabilities, apps– and games. As for anyone who has bought a PSP in the last year and a half, they probably didn’t do it for the obsolete UMD movies.

Now I can officially say that Nintendo, Sony, and Apple have each had the opportunity to just let go and talk out of their butts. And with the Nintendo 3DS coming next year, I suppose the, ahem, urination contest between the three companies will get worse before it gets better.

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