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Feed Techdirt: If You Can't Even Describe The Past, How Can You Predict The Future? (

When Apple reported its opening weekend iPhone sales, Wall Street was disappointed that the 270,000 figure it gave out failed to hit much loftier estimates. Of course, this raises the old question: did Apple miss estimates or did analysts mis-estimate? In a sense, the answer is always both, although its worth exploring why the numbers were so far apart. Looking into this question, Carl Bialik notes that Wall Street analysts basically got caught up in emotional hype, as each one tried to outdo each other by making bolder predictions. Their mistakes were exacerbated by the use of small sample sizes, which they mistakenly extrapolated across the country. Analysts make predictions about unit sales all the time for all kinds of products, but you have to wonder how they can accurately predict the future when they can't even correctly gauge what's already happened.

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