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Damned Lies and Statistics: How Facebook, Google, and Microsoft Got Punked

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Facebook did not change its policies and Google did not announce that it would buy ICOA.

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This qualifies as a "damned lie" because it smells an awful lot like a classic "pump-and-dump" stock scheme. ICOA, which has six employees and 2011 revenues of $85,000, is a penny stock that trades on the OTC Pink Sheets. It started and ended the day at a share price of .0001, with a midday spike before the story imploded.

A Statistic About Microsoft

On Monday, Fortune.com ran a column based on a Piper Jaffray team's observation of eight hours of Black Friday traffic at the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) store at the Mall of America, and two hours at the Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) store across the hall. The team found that the Microsoft store got 47% less traffic than the Apple store, presumably during the two hours that both were monitored.

It also found that shoppers bought 17.2 items per hour at the Apple store, but only 3.5 items per hour at Microsoft, and all but two of those were X-Box games. Finally, it found that shoppers bought an average of 11 iPads per hour, while not a single Microsoft Surface tablet was sold during those two hours.

They even have a little mini-spreadsheet to lay all that out.

This story was a mildly interesting anecdote until it got picked up and splashed all over the Internet with headlines like these: "Microsoft's Surface tablet has a black, meaning dismal, Black Friday" (in The San Francisco Examiner), and "Black Friday Shoppers Flocked to iPad, Ignored Surface Tablet" (in Mashable.com). Or this one in ComputerWorld: "Analyst reports that Black Friday Microsoft Surface sales were dismal."

Can't blame Piper Jaffrey for this, but Microsoft ended the trading day on Monday, a positive day for Nasdaq stocks generally, at $27.39, a loss of 1.14%.

Mark Twain is spinning in his grave. If he ever really wrote that.
Position in MSFT.
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