Dear CMO:
I swear I’m a Seth Godin fan. I don’t mean to take issue with everything he writes about, because I think his posts are thought provoking and almost always on target.
Did you catch the “Apple’s Next Problem” post? Walking into a Starbucks, the author notes that out of five people observed, all five use Mac notebooks. This is pronounced a trend and thus portends a future problem for Apple: they are too popular and can’t be “think different” any longer.
Do we expect to see Mac notebooks in an urban location where they serve $5 coffee? Especially Starbucks? Yes, I think we do. Does this make it a trend? No, probably not.
Do we expect that most Podcasts available through iTunes in News and Politics are (heavily) leaning to the left? Yes, given the flavor of portable audio consumers and demo/psychographics, Apple, and iTunes in general. Do we therefore conclude that the political landscape is dominated by liberal thinking? No, not if you read the news and travel a bit.
If more red cars are in accidents than any other color, is it because drivers of red cars are reckless? Or is it because there are more red cars on the road?
Correlation and causality — not to mention statistical bias — occasionally make fools of us all.
PS: I’d hate to lose the opportunity, however, of looking at this as the reversal of the Aikido strategy: where you can effectively use your opponent’s market size and popularity against them, you can also lose credibility if and when you, yourself lose underdog status and become the “overdog.”