May 4th, 2011

iSuppli reports on ereaders and app stores

eReaders here:

40% seems wildly low, but we should know when we get the March numbers in a couple weeks whether the first two months of the year were unrepresentative or not.

App Stores here:,2817,2384887,00.asp

Whenever I see a prediction like this:

"According to data from IHS iSuppli, Apple will dominate the competition through 2014, when it will retain 60 percent of the market." I get curious about things like, yeah, and who will have the other 40%? The answer iSuppli is offering is Android in the 2nd slot.

I have mixed feelings about iSuppli. They certainly collect the relevant data. Some of what they do in producing projections strikes me as silly -- it's conservative in a defensive corporate sense, thus, overestimating the likelihood that a new player is a genuine threat, underestimating the likelihood of meaningful technological change in the short- to medium term, things like that. Think: bean counter paranoia and you are not far off. But they don't strike me as foolish, the way some commentators do.

Here is Sarah Rotman Epps explaining why the Android options won't be hurting iPad2 this year, unless Amazon enters the fray. I worry a lot when a not-even-announced-possibly-fantasy-product is treated as a more serious issue than real products. OTOH, it's not like the Galaxy Tab has taken off like a rocket.

I think the crucial information is something we won't have until June when the new rules take effect in the App Store, if I understand them correctly. If in order to have a kindle app on the iPad, Amazon must offer books for sale through the iPad with 30% going to Apple (and similar for everyone else), I could readily foresee a summer of vituperation as a three-way clusterfuck develops between Apple, users, and Netflix-Amazon-Sony-etc. who decide to pull their apps because the rules got too ridiculous.

I don't know. It's really hard to predict what Apple and/or Steve Jobs is capable of. They've worked miracles and they've (nearly) destroyed themselves too often to make any guess a probable one.

ETA: I guess another possible outcome might be pressure to take DRM off so you can buy books at Amazon and read them in a 3rd party reader that -does not- sell anything anywhere. That sounds so amazingly cool it feels unlikely.

Number of PCs per household data

I'm not entirely certain what to say about this. I thought I would try some calibration of the eReader and/or tablet stuff I was reading, to see what sources (in this case, Forrester blogs) are saying about other topics at the same time. After all, the perspective issues I see in eReader and/or tablet coverage may well be representative of a lot more than just those topics.

Years ago, I remember sitting in Mayberry, NH, in a small, but not tiny house and trying to figure out how we could adjust lifestyle to fit into it as a then-growing family. (The short answer is, we gave up and moved to a much bigger house, altho not exclusively or even primarily for additional space. We could have renovated to get more space, but that wasn't going to change commute time or the school system/community.) One part of the problem was my collection of books (it is big, altho it has stopped growing in pbook form, which is to say, I am now getting rid of pbooks faster than I am acquiring them. This has happened before the kindle, altho only when facing a cross country move.); another part of the problem was R.'s collection of CDs (also big, altho probably not as big. I'm not sure, altho I am quite sure I don't really want to know.).

One of my bright ideas was to set up a laptop and peripherals etagere. We never actually did this in Mayberry, but the idea was to get a tall, narrow shelving unit of some sort, so we could each have a spot to put a laptop when it wasn't in use where it could charge, and also on the shelf would be things like the scanner, the printer, etc. We have approximated it in the larger house; a printer lives underneath the TV/DVD/DVR/etc. equipment. The laptops and iPads have designated charging spaces on other furniture.

So when I read this blog entry, in particular this quote:

"And I suddenly wondered: “Is this how a typical household looks, with every household member having their own PC?”"

I was sort of happy to get some real data, sort of suspicious that this was a new insight (I'm inclined to believe this is a put-up question to justify putting the data out there) and really exasperated. The really exasperated part derives from the sense that a household _does_ need something close to a desktop (could be a desktop replacement laptop) to be some combination of data storage, network management, location to run tax software, etc. But while individuals in the household have been acquiring their own computers (desktop, laptop, netbook, tablet), it has not been at all obvious to me that this was a good match for what people were doing with them. Specifically, it seemed really obvious to me that if you live in a household with a shared "home PC" that could do the serious stuff, you could absolutely get away with a tablet/netbook/etc. for web/TV/email/games.

But if you don't realize what households are doing and why, it's going to look a little confusing when you see families buying their pre-k'ers iPod Touchs and kindles and, in more extreme cases, tablets, and their tweeners all have netbooks and so forth. Is it expensive? The question is not whether this costs money. Everything about a family costs money. The question is what the alternative is. And all these smaller devices consume less money and/or space than the more traditional alternative.

JAMA study, sodium in urine

Anyone got access to the whole thing?

I'm trying to find out whether they checked to see if people were taking diuretics.

[ETA: It turns out they were not. No one being treated for hypertension was allowed in. Anyone who developed and received treatment for hypertension was excluded. See below.]

"Of 3681 participants without CVD, 2096 were normotensive at baseline and 1499 had BP and sodium excretion measured at baseline and last follow-up (2005-2008)."

I think that means that the 1499 weren't normotensive [ETA: totally wrong], but I don't see any indication as to whether the 2096 were normotensive because they were taking antihypertensive drugs like diuretics or unmedicated. I think it might matter a lot, because another who is normotensive because they are taking diuretics is probably excreting a whole lot more sodium than someone who is not hypertensive and not taking diuretics -- and that latter person would be expected to have a higher mortality risk during the duration of the study. But the two people in question might have _exactly_ the same diet, so you wouldn't really be measuring what's in the diet but rather the effects of medication.

I would hope they would have allowed for this possibility (because it seems like a really obvious, big problem), but I don't see anything in the abstract about it. From the Results in the Abstract, this:

"Incident hypertension was 187 (27.0%; HR, 1.00; 95% CI, 0.87-1.16) in the low, 190 (26.6%; HR, 1.02; 95% CI, 0.89-1.16) in the medium, and 175 (25.4%; HR, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.86-1.12) in the high sodium excretion group."

would be _utterly_ compatible with my hypothesis (viz. taking diuretics works to lower hypertension, reduce CVD risk, and it does it all by making you dump sodium).

[ETA: So that theory was completely wrong. However, the reality turned out to be far, far worse.]

ETA: I _cannot_ believe this. A google news search on "jama sodium" (not in quotes in the search) turns up unbelievable amounts of coverage. "jama sodium diuretic" turns up nothing. Come on, people: just tell me they _accounted_ for this and I'm totally wrong. That's all I want to know.


I _luuuurrrrvve_ the interwebs.

This is the symposium version of the article, listed as the work of Katarzyna Stolarz-Skrzypek, MD, PhD here:

It is a powerpoint, so I uploaded it into google docs which sort of mangles it but it is mostly readable.

The people recruited into the original study and available at _baseline_ were 3836 white Europeans from five countries who had never been treated for hypertension. At baseline.

Here's what happened to cut that down to only 1499 people who had 24h urine at baseline and followup at 6.1 years and did the questionnaire and so forth.

(1) 222 died
(2) 20 severely ill
(3) 269 moved out
(4) 386 refused
(5) 590 24 h urine missing

separate from those, they excluded "346 24h urine" and undercollected "504 AHT drugs"

If you add up all those numbers, you do indeed get the difference between 3836 and 1499.

Let's think about that.

You excluded the people who died, were sick, or were taking AHT drugs (<--- antihypertension, as in diuretics). (Moving out, refusing and missing samples we will assume happens randomly, altho it does _not_ since some of that moving out might also be being dead). Those three categories are _half_ the size of your resulting 1499 that supposedly demonstrated that salt has no discernable effect on mortality or blood pressure.

I am completely flabbergasted. This study in no way says what people think it says. You cannot reasonably produce the kind of abstract/press release that went out and got so much coverage and _never_ mention the 504 people who got removed from the data because they were taking antihypertensives and your study is only looking at people never treated for antihypertensives. Hell, that's 13% of your _baseline_. I honestly cannot _imagine_ a signal from sodium that could survive this study structure. Well, maybe the kind of signal that tobacco constituted, but no one thinks salt is that bad.

ETA Still more: The five countries are : B I CZ RUS PL which I think means Belgium, Italy, Czech Republic, Russia, Poland. Over half of the participants seem to be female (in CZ and RU, 60.9% female and 63.6% female). BMIs at baseline are listed by country, but I don't know if it's median or average -- either way, they are all under 25. Baseline blood pressures are _really_ low: 121.6/ 74.3 119.9/77.2 116.7/74.3 115.8/73.4 120.2/75.2. This is a _heavily_ sorted population by this point. Followup bps: 124.4/ 77.7 126.0/83.5 116.7/77.7 119.3/77.1 130.0/90.0. That suggests to me that within this sorted population, the blood pressure increase typical of increasing age in adults dominates any other effect. They did the usual adjustments but also for "use of female sex hormones and NSAIDs".

Amazingly (I think this may be the most shocking part), here are the symposium slide conclusions:

"Salt intake, as exemplified by 24-h UVNa, was consistently and positively associated with SBP in cross-sectional analyses both at baseline and follow-up."

"Changes in SBP over time follow changes in 24-h UVNa."

More salt = higher systolic blood pressure.
Changes in systolic blood pressure track urinary sodium.

How did this get turned into "dietary salt has no impact on blood pressure"?

I can't speak to the assertions about CVD mortality, but given who got ripped out before the analysis occurred, I also cannot imagine it matters.

NYT coverage of salt study by Gina Kolata

They went after some details that would require actual JAMA access.

"But among the study’s other problems, Dr. Briss said, its subjects who seemed to consume the smallest amount of sodium also provided less urine than those consuming more, an indication that they might not have collected all of their urine in an 24-hour period."

NYT says Staessen is the lead author, which sort of made me scratch my head. He's the last listed, an important spot -- but not the first spot, which is what I understand "lead author" to mean. I think Staessen may be a bit of a media ho, and would prefer to demonstrate that high blood pressure is an artifact of heavy metal poisoning rather than salt in the diet. I have mixed feelings about including a bunch of quotes from Alderman, since he was shilling for the Salt Institute at one point, but NYT does include that which might have the (desirable) effect of making everything he says extra suspicious in the minds of alert readers.

NYT does _not_ point out (and I wish they had) that the "low" sodium tertile in the study was consuming about what is recommended for a "normal" diet -- it wasn't anywhere near what a "low sodium" diet is considered in medical terms.