Steve Ballmer can talk a good game – in fact, his sheer enthusiasm for Microsoft and his near-fanatical belief that everything the company does is absolutely mindblowing can be a little frightening at times, quite frankly.
He's also seldom short of a largely meaningless or unquantifiable stat to help drive that enthusiasm home, and his latest is the claim that Windows Phone is selling at four times the rate it was at the same time last year.
This is what he told Microsoft's shareholders at their big annual meeting this week, according to a tweet from Bloomberg's Dana Bass, who was in attendance.
“Windows Phone 8 has been on sale for a few weeks and is off to a great start,” Bass also quoted Ballmer as saying. “[Windows Phone 8 handsets] are getting rave reviews and have initially sold out in many countries.”
Good to hear it, Steve-O, except that terms like “few weeks”, “great start” and “rave reviews” are some fairly obvious flags that you're actually telling us absolutely nothing of any practical value.
And as for the claim of selling four times the phones versus 2011, that doesn't mean very much since we haven't been given any actual sales figures. And even if we had, we still wouldn't know whether the statement was true or not, because we also didn't get numbers last year.
When we have been given figures, they've purely covered the number of WP licences sold rather than the number of devices sold – the difference is anyone's guess, really, and Microsoft knows it.
Does it really not have any data on how many Windows Phones are in active circulation? It must do – it's inconceivable that Microsoft could be completely in the dark about the single most important measure of whether its software is getting the job done or not.
There's only one good reason for not telling: the numbers are lower than expected. But because he didn't dish up the facts last year, Ballmer can spin the facts this year to make Microsoft look good, and still technically be telling the truth.
Or, to quote Mr Ballmer himself, “we see nothing but a sea of upside”.