The great thing about statistics is you can use them to support practically any argument – you just have to pick the right numbers and express them in the right way.
Like the politician who, on causing outrage by stating that half the people in parliament were donkeys, apologised and conceded that half of his colleagues were in fact not donkeys.
Moving closer to home, consider the fact – and it is a fact, at least according to NetMarketShare – that Windows Phone was by far the fastest growing mobile OS in terms of global internet usage in 2012, posting a massive 289% growth year on year over 2011. Good news, right?
Not as good as it might sound. It doesn't take a degree in mathematics to work out that the only way it's even possible to grow by 289% is if the number you're growing from is pretty low to begin with.
Take iOS. The Apple platform accounted for roughly 50% of all mobile web traffic in December 2011, making a WinPho-matching spike in 2012 a statistical impossibility.
So while pro-WP blogs are quite entitled to champion what appears to be some big gains by Windows Phone this year - and so long as the numbers are correct (and let's assume they are for the sake of argument), they aren't telling any lies by doing so - some of the numbers that aren't highlighted reflect far from favourably on Microsoft.
First, the figure of 289% is based on growth from 0.27% of web traffic in December 2011 to 1.05% in December 2012. Neither number leaves Microsoft looking good. Windows Phone is now the best part of two and a half years old now, and though they wouldn't have said it at the time, I'm sure the likes of Steve Ballmer and Joe Belfiore would privately have been expecting to be doing a bit better by this stage of the game, especially now that Windows Phone 8 is officially out in the wild.
And yes, I'm aware that web usage and smartphone sales are two different things, but if we're talking ecosystems (as Microsoft likes to) the former is a pretty important consideration, plus of course we have no figures for the latter.
It's a measure of how far Windows Phone still has to go in the bigger scheme of things that even if it keeps growing at the exact same pace, which statistically becomes increasingly unlikely the higher its actual market share figure gets, we'll still be well into 2015 before Windows Phone gets anywhere near Android and iOS.
For now, Microsoft's best bet would be to analyse the market share given away during 2012 by Symbian (down from 5.76% to 1.51%) and BlackBerry OS (down from 3.51% to 1.59%), and work out how it can get more of that sort of user buying into Windows Phone instead in future.
Don't get me wrong: growth is good, and at least Windows Phone is growing, as opposed to the two rival platforms just mentioned. But as much as a 289% year-on-year increase makes for good headlines, it also serves as a reminder that even more than two years into the smartphone OS race, Windows Phone still has it all to do.