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Survey: Iyonix use leads VirtualRPC

By Chris Williams. Published: 26th Aug 2005, 22:42:11 | Permalink | Printable

RiscPC outright winner

The results are in for the survey of RISC OS computer use in 2005, in which we asked drobe.co.uk readers to vote on which machines they used in a daily to weekly basis. Over 60 percent of those who participated in the experiment said they used RiscPC class computers, and around 40 percent said they used Iyonixes. The results also show the dominance the RiscPC has over other RISC OS powered machines.

Machine classPercentage of drobe readers
VRPC on a laptop15.5%
VRPC on a PC10.3%

Click for larger graph

The 'other' catagory mostly consists of RedSquirrel and other RISC OS hardware emulators. The low number of votes for RiscStation and MicroDigital machines, as well as the fact that both companies have seemingly disappeared completely, illustrates how tough it is to break into a niche market. The Castle Iyonix has, however, fared particularly well given that the RiscPC had almost a decade's headstart. Also, the total percentage of VirtualRiscPC use is not far behind the Iyonix, and may explain why Castle decided to drastically increase the royalty fee owed from VirtualRiscPC sales shortly before the fall out last summer.

One reader involved in RISC OS in education pondered to us, "I use up to 11 RiscPCs in a week in a school setting. A further 80-90 children will use RiscPCs during the week and 7 or 8 staff will also use RiscPCs during a typical week. How does that get included in the survey?" In the end, we decided that they'd each have to vote along with everyone else if they wanted to be counted, as every reader is given a vote per machine class. This situation highlighted that this experiment is best interpreted as a survey of personal desktop use, as the survey is ill-suited to measure use of RISC OS in schools, embedded applications and other specialist areas. The survey also doesn't measure the exact number of RISC OS computers in use - only the percentage of drobe.co.uk readers who use the machines. The survey also cannot accurately measure which RISC OS version is most used, as RiscPC class machines can run anything from 3.5 to 4.39.

As for the political nature of these results: The excuse that there are not enough Iyonix users to ensure a return on investment in RISC OS 5 targeted development is now arguably weakened. Even with the RiscPC and VirtualRiscPC totals stacked up, the Iyonix userbase is not an insignificant proportion. You'd also think that they would be an attractive bunch to pitch products to, seeing as they were prepared to spend over a grand on a 600MHz XScale machine.

And so, we now await the results of Archive magazine's survey, which is being conducted in parallel to drobe.co.uk's. If anything, it'll possibly highlight that online readers prefer emulation and print subscribers are happy with native hardware, or vice versa. Many thanks to everyone who took the trouble to participate in the drobe.co.uk survey.


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Nice to see that although the A9 has not been release yet, the number of people who have the development version is significant enough to be 3rd from bottom in this pole.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 26/8/05 11:13PM
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All round I find the results very encouraging. I had expected that RiscPCs would be massively ahead of everything, but in fact there are a large number of readers using more modern hardware (e.g. Iyonix, VRPC, A9, Omega etc..) as well. Personally I find Iyonix and A9 use particularly encouraging.

Unfortunately it's difficult to arrive at complete conclusions from the results shown. I'd be interested to see some further comparisons (e.g. of those using RiscPCs, how many also use something else?).

 is a RISC OS Userflypig on 26/8/05 11:37PM
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Out of interest, how many votes were cast?

 is a RISC OS Userjamesp on 27/8/05 12:28AM
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I'd have liked to see a much bigger difference between the use of VRPC on a laptop and on a desktop machine, what with the former being a much less controversial use (and one that I'm using right now).

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 27/8/05 12:58AM
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I think the results are excellent, and certainly seem to clearly show that given a choice (i.e. not forced by employer etc) that RISC OS users will choose a hardware solution. It only goes to enforce our philiosophy that VirtualAcorn exists to allow users to use their operating system of choice, RISCOS, when the hardware they must use is dictated to them. No doubt I am going to get flamed for this, but it also seems to show that VirtualAcorn does not have a siginificant impact on sales of real hardware, which seems to have been a concern of some Drobe posters recently. Overall I think these figures are good news for RISC OS hardware manufacturers and show that the market for RISC OS hardware is still vibrant. In particular I think that the Iyonix figure is exceptional given the almost 10 year life span of the RiscPC.

 is a RISC OS UserVirtualAcorn on 27/8/05 1:38AM
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Was the number of votes 264 or 736 or am I way out ;-)

 is a RISC OS Userjamesp on 27/8/05 1:46AM
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My 'other' (out of two machines) was for a MicroDigital Mico; the fact that these machines were not listed might have had something to do with the 'low number of votes' for them! :-)

 is a RISC OS UserHarriet on 27/8/05 4:03AM
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Well at least the survey blows out of the water *any* notion that there are insufficient number of Iyonix users to justify ROL porting Select to it (if you add VRPC (laptop & PC) + A9Home (yes early days I know)) these "Select" equipped machines are outnumbered by nearly 2 to 1 by Iyonix users. Can ROL *really* ignore a potential market nearly twice the size it currently has ?

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 27/8/05 5:45PM
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VirtualAcorn said>"it also seems to show that VirtualAcorn does not have a siginificant impact on sales of real hardware".

I am afraid there is insufficient information in the Survey to allow a conclusion one way or the other, as the survey is somewhat self-selecting.

For the most part *only* people who continue to use and take an active interest in RISC OS read Drobe. If there was a substantial *exodus* of RISC OS users to Windows (perhaps after being coaxed onto it by VA) then not all of those users I would expect to actually read or participate in the survey. All the survey shows is continuing RISC OS users some of whom use VARPC. Those who *had* used VARPC and left RISC OS would not be counted.

Saying VA did no harm to hardware sales because *fewer* of the continuing RISC OS users use it than use native hardware is probably a bit simplistic. The real question is how many used VA and left and would they have left anyway or not (and that my friends is a very tough question).

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 27/8/05 7:11PM
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As soon as you release the results of a survey - despite the careful use of the phrase "of those who participated" - some people believe the results have some meaning outside those carefully restricted conditions. Somehow AMS seems to want it both ways claiming the survey shows A yet denying that it can show B. There are no conclusions that you can come to from the survey. It's a bit of fun. Sorry!

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 27/8/05 9:04PM
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I would like to see a "Venn diagram" of votes, showing the overlap between RiscPc/Iyonix/VRPC/Rest. This would be almost as informative as the original results.

 is a RISC OS Userpw on 27/8/05 11:24PM
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To Drobe/Chris: I think that it would indeed be nice to know the (approximate) number of votes you got.

To AMS: Sure ROL can ignore such numbers - otherwise they'd be working on an IYONIX support instead of the A9home :-) To AMS and jc: Drobe never claimed to make a real survey just as Archive doesn't since both just reach a certain subset of the RISC OS users, be it Drobe readers or Archive readers. On the other hand I think that there is a reasonable chance to reach a significant number of the users using RISC OS through these two and thus get a decent impression of the figures.

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 28/8/05 7:52AM
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One interesting calculation from the results (if we are to assume that they are in any way meaningful) is that there are 7 times as many Iyonix as Omeagas. Certain people like to say that the number of Omegas is extremely small, probably only a couple of dozen, so perhaps this will finally lay that to rest.

The survey also shows only 18 times as many Iyonix as A9s. (I'm assuming A9 Developer version rather than A9 Home since the latter doesn't exist yet). What conclusions do we draw from that? Or does it just show that the results are so distorted (by various factors) as to make *any* conclusions meaningless.

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 28/8/05 8:01AM
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In reply to AMS:

The reasons I made the statment I did which was "seems to show" was that unlike you I do have one of the base line figures, the sales of VirtualRPC. If we assume the survey is reasonably accurate (and if we assume it isn't lets just forget about it) then all I need to do is project my sales numbers across. The result looks good for hardware manufacturers, in my opinion.

 is a RISC OS UserVirtualAcorn on 28/8/05 10:42AM
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jc>"Somehow AMS seems to want it both ways claiming the survey shows A yet denying that it can show B"

No, not in the least (read CAREFULLY what I wrote). The survey is self-selecting in as much as *those who continue to use RISC OS* (and *read Drobe*) have computer use as breakdown in the survey. Therefore of those who *have responded* a significant number have said they use Iyonix - and more so than have all other platforms (except RISC PC). That means what I said *is valid* in that context. Also as the people who read Drobe (and respond to such surveys) are likely to buy new RISC OS products (i.e., they're still interested) - and as a fair proportion of those use Iyonix - that would suggest there is a *significant* number of potential Select buyers there.

As to point B (Damage or otherwise caused by VA to RISC OS hardware sales) this would require a knowledge of how many of the 3000 purchasers of VA products *no longer use* RISC OS (and therefore are unlikely to respond to the survey). In short *we can't know*.

It really isn't that complicated is it ?

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 28/8/05 1:08PM
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You wonder how many VA buyers no longer use RISC OS. The answer is simple - only those who threw VA away once they'd finished with it! I doubt any of /them/ would have bought new RISC OS hardware just for some quick one-off soution. Secondhand maybe, but only if it came with a NIC for less than the price of VA. And I doubt there are many of them anyway.

Of current VA desktop users, there is the question as to how many would have otherwise bought new, or bought secondhand, or just sighed because they don't have room for a second machine alongside their mandatory Wintel box.

 is a RISC OS Usersteelpillow on 28/8/05 1:42PM
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It's interesting to see these figures compared to those of my Archive magazine survey. One notable difference is that this voting system on Drobe has come up with twice the percentage of Omega owners that I've registered.

 is a RISC OS Userpaulbev on 29/8/05 3:21PM
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As I should have stressed more so: This is really a survey of RISC OS users who read Drobe, and it's up to your imagination as to whether or not Drobe readers who participated represent the market as a whole. The high percentage of A9 users shows that these people are probably more tech savvy and 'active' than others, and therefore more likely to vote in the online poll. The same could perhaps be said for Iyonix users. VRPC users could be more casual and may not bother with websites like drobe.co.uk. It was an interesting experiment but I don't think it should be read as gospel. Or maybe I'm being too critical.

Either way, it'll be most interesting to compare with Archive's. I like the idea of breaking down each category to see which combinations of machines are most popular. I'll work on that a little later.

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 29/8/05 4:28PM
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To AMS: You don't know the absolute numbers and you don't know the real percentages (just the ratios of those who happened to respond to this survey) and yet say that the survey shows there are enough Iyonix users. It shows no such thing. Probably about the best that you can get out of it is that there are people who have declared that they have/use a particular machine. It may give the lie to anyone trying to pretend that Omega users don't read Drobe (or even that Omega users don't exist!).

But don't despair! You can still read quite a lot out of the survey and these comments: not what the results actually say but what people wish they said. ;-)

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 29/8/05 6:13PM
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In reply to paulbev: Well you didn't get my Omega vote because my subscription doesn't expire for a few months - see you with cash in hand at the south east show :-)

 is a RISC OS Userhelpful on 30/8/05 3:05AM
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In reply to jc:

Are you saying most of the people that put down Iyonix are lying? Your own little world gets stranger every day.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 30/8/05 11:59AM
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Interesting results, yes many factors will distort, I suspect the A9 has done well as those 'developers' with A9's are more likely to enter the poll than average.

What would be even more interesting is the comparison from previous years, was there previous similair surveys?

Also I have forgotten the exact question, could it be reposted? In particular I am wondering, was it just a single selection or the option to select multiple computers?

 is a RISC OS UserCJE on 30/8/05 12:08PM
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Well I for one selected multiple computers (an Iyo and a RPC) as I have both and they are both in weekly use (the latter just about). I wouldn't be surprised if a fair proportion of Iyo owners have kept their old RPCs as a spare or backup machine, and maybe voted as I did. I agree with 'pw' above (28 Aug) that a breakdown of overlapping ownership would be informative, if possible.

 is a RISC OS Userbucksboy on 30/8/05 12:56PM
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Archive mag survey ? I guess I completely missed it ...

I got unsubscribed from AOL because too many mails bounced: problems with x-mailer.co.uk again ?

BTW: I didn't find anything about a survey in the latest issue of Archive either.

Can I still participate in the survey ?

 is a RISC OS Userscl4c0rn on 30/8/05 1:58PM
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To several: Nice discussions and comments as for what these numbers contain: - They need not be Drobe readers - they can be offliners who got a hint and voted. - They need not be real since anybody wanting to could throw in whatever vote. - They neen not be by RISC OS users to start with ...

All this reminds me a bit of the trip of a journalist, a physics teachter and a mathematician through Texas. Strangely enough they saw black cows only. - Afterwards the journalist said he'll write "all cows in Texas are black". - The physics guy said that that was wrong and the correct statement would be "all cows in Texas we saw are black." - The mathematician disagreed with both violently stating that the only true statement they can make is "all cows they saw in Texas are black on at least on side of the animal".

So simply put the figures of this review can be complete crap - theoretically. Or as is said (at least in Germany). "Do not believe any statistical result unless you faked it yourselt" :-)

But I think that we all agree that chances are high that the results are what most users think: - Valid entries by Drobe readers (and perhaps the odd friend asked along to vote). Thus usable results - The same poll will probably yield different results in 6 months (with A9home there).

And Paul of Archive: please let us see your vote results ...

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 30/8/05 4:43PM
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hzn:"Do not believe any statistical result unless you faked it yourself" Heh. There is a phrase in english along the same lines, it's the observation that there are "lies, damn lies and statistics".

As to whether non-regular-drobe-readers participated, that's easy: just ask drobe how many new account registrations there were in the period (and whether it was more than normal, and whether they voted).


 is a RISC OS Useradamr on 30/8/05 4:55PM
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adamr> Don't know *how* many new ones there were (best ask Ian or Chris I guess, or you could check the Internet Archive sites (waybackmachine and all that)). But the side panel shows currently there are 422 active accounts. If the "% of drobe readers" in the stats is based on this you should be able to work out how many occurrances of use there were for each platform (i.e., it would give John Cartmell the *absolute* figures he wanted).

For example : with 422 users and 42.4% using an Iyonix that works out at an even 179.928 Iyonix users (yes I was on a diet hence the 0.928 and yes it's going fine ;).

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 30/8/05 8:38PM
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How about "...all cows they saw in Texas are black on at least one side of the animal for at least as long as they were looking at them?"

 is a RISC OS Userjouster on 30/8/05 11:28PM
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Great to see original hardware remaining greater than VRPC. I sincerely hope VRPC remains no more than a stop-gap.

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 31/8/05 12:12AM
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AMS: I think that, as is not infrequently the case, your logic is rather faulty.

I think you'll find that the "% of Drobe readers" in the stats really means "% of people who voted" rather than your interpretation of "% of the total number of people with a Drobe account". Anything else would make no sense since it would mean that the results from non registered users were discounted, and I'm sure that wasn't the case.

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 31/8/05 7:40AM
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