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By the Numbers: Recent Stats in Perspective

numbers and statsStatistics and comparative numbers hit the airwaves and headlines of business news every day.  “The price represents a 39% premium over the prior day’s close.” “Total U.S. gaming sales were up 18% over the same period in the prior year”  EBITDA. Market Share.  Off. On.  Positive. Negative.   Today’s grabber was an announcement from retail tracking firm NPD that Apple surpassed Best Buy to become the number two music retailer (offline and on) in the U.S.

Boiled down, it seems there is a number to tell any story, or as often, support any argument.   But what might these digits look like in perspective?   Outside the microcosm of tech, or media tech, what do some of the statistics translate to?

The last edition of the occasional Metue “By the Numbers” column was a recap of 2007 events.  This edition is all about comparison; putting apples to oranges and looking at data in a different way.   (Suggestions and stats for a future edition are welcome by comment or contact)

Now, the envelope please:

•29 million people in the U.S. bought and downloaded songs online in 2007 legally (source NPD).  

Perspective:  29m people is approximately equal to the population of Iraq or Venezuela.   At $1 a song, the $29m dollars it represents is just a little bit below the opening weekend box office draw for Disney’s Hannah Montana movie earlier this month. 29 million people is also more than 1,300 times the size of Apple’s 21,600 person work force.

•Revenues generated by consumer electronics in 2008 are expected to reach $171 billion, a 6% increase over 2007. (source:  Consumer Electronics Association)

Perspective: At $399 a pop, that is the equivalent to 428,571,428 iPhones.  At $249, it’s equal to 686,746,987 80GB Microsoft Zunes.  It’s also 3,180,212 times greater the average median family household income in California for 2004-2006 (according to the US Census Bureau) .   In hamburger terms, at an average price of about $5.00 for a Big Mac “value meal,” that’s enough to give every person in France (approx. 62m) a Big Mac and fries every day for 551 days straight. 

•According to ComScore, in December 2007, Google websites had 79,041,000 unique viewers, Fox Interactive Media had 43,915m and Yahoo’s Sites had 27,168m.  Adding in Viacom, Microsoft, Disney, ESPN, Apple, Time Warner and Amazon, the combined number of people  on these top ten websites (even though there’s significant overlap between the traffic on these sites) was 261,342,000.

Perspective: That is almost as many people as the entire population of Europe in 1850 (276m).  It’s more than double all the automobiles registered in all fifty states and the District of Colombia in 2004 (134m). It’s more than three times the entire home attendance numbers for all thirty Major League Baseball teams for the entire 2007 baseball season (79.4m) .  It’s more than four times the number of passengers carried on all U.S. airlines (domestically and internationally) in November 2007 (59.9m).

•In January, total U.S. video game sales were $1.18billion.  Software contributed $610.6m to that total.  For 2007, combined hardware and software sales yielded revenue of $17.94b (source NPD)

Perspective: The 2007 cumulative number is more than half of all money raised in New York stock market IPO’s for 2006 ($29b).  The January total, in more hamburger math, would buy about 236 million Big Mac value meals.   That’s enough special sauce and fries to give almost two meals to every citizen of Japan, the world’s tenth most populous nation (128m people).  Alternatively, the January revenue number would provide enough money to give every one of the 300 million residents of the United States, $59.80 in cash.  (And if $59.80 a person does not seem like much, consider that the annual budget of NASA amounts to approximately $57.10 a year per US Taxpayer.  There’d still be money left over for a candy bar or a soda).

•The Internet Advertising Bureau is reporting that 2007 online ad revenues (which will be officially reported in May) will exceed $21 billion. (source IAB)

Perspective:  That $21b is the equivalent of buying 196,124 full page color ads (approximately $107k each) in the New York Times Sunday Magazine.  At 100 pages an issue, one issue a week, that is the same as buying all print space (the entire magazine) every weekend for almost 38 years.   In Super Bowl Ads, the same $21b would buy 7,777 thirty-second ad spots at this year’s rate of $2.7m a piece.  That’s 3,888 minutes of commercial time or more than two and half days of straight commercials on instead of the game.  And if those numbers don’t frame it well, how about these: $21b is about half of all Federal taxes collected for 1948.  It’s also about the final cost of the Apollo Space Project which put men on the moon (Apollo was estimated to be between $20 and $25billion (leaving out inflation related adjustments)).

•In 2007, U.S. Domestic Box Office results set a record of $9.62b in total receipts for the movie industry.  5 Studios grossed more than a billion dollars each. (source: data compiled from Box Office Mojo stats)

Perspective:  The all time best opening weekend for a movie is currently Spiderman 3 with about $151m.  At that rate, it would take about sixty three weeks for Spiderman 3 to hit the total gross receipts.  That same $9.62b would also buy 1.9b Big Mac “value meals” or medium movie theater popcorns (at about $5/per).   That’s enough cash for every resident of China, the U.S, Germany and China to each have their own carton of fries or bag of popcorn.   The money would also buy a fleet of 76,800 Maserati’s, or 6,413,333 flat panel TVs (@ $1500 apiece ).  That’s enough TVs to give one to every resident of Washington or Indiana or Arizona or Tennessee or Massachusetts. 


Related Articles
NPD  Retail Stats: January State of Gaming
By The Numbers: 2007 Stats Recap
NPD December and 2007 Gaming Results
By the Numbers, Episode 3: Media Stats
By the Numbers: Episode 2: Media Stats
By the Numbers, Episode 1: June
How Hot is the Gaming Industry?
Gaming Global: Retail data from UK, Canada, Australia and Japan

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