I always like to look at numbers for the market share of GNU/Linux. I came upon SJVN’s article about FireFox slipping against IE, in which he passed on the explanation from Net Applications about their weighting of hit counts.
What immediately hit me with great clarity is that the weighting as described is seriously wrong! If you are counting browsers and operating systems, the number of users of the Internet is irrelevant. For example, in many schools there are from 3 to 10 users per PC. In China the ratio of users of the Internet is estimated by the CIA to be 389 million, more than the USA, with 245 million while PC shipments to China are about 18.4 million in Q3 2010 while USA shipped 17.6 million. That is the ratio of users to PCs is much higher in China than the USA. Homes in USA often have multiple PCs while in China many use Internet cafes. The result, Net Applications is counting PCs/browsers multiple times in China. In fact, growth of shipments of PCs in China is so large recently, the number of operational PCs in China is much less than in the USA, 99 million compared to 264 million in 2008.
The same thing is happening everywhere on the globe. Students or employees often use one PC for two or more users. So, weighting by the number of users is wrong.
Now, China has a high usage of GNU/Linux compared to Canada or the USA but, if the client sites of Net Applications are more likely to be visited by businesses or organizations using XP than GNU/Linux, overweighting them could certainly exaggerate the tenacity of that other OS share.
Of course, attempting to find the shares for China leads to “The report you requested requires that you are a subscriber to “Geolocation Upgrade”.”. Information is more fun when it is free.