iPhone 4 re-invents the pie chart

As if the iPhone 4 has done enough to change our world – well it has done everything from re-inventing the internet, computing, telephony and the way I make my lunch and now it has re-invented the pie chart too.

The pie chart has always had a bad wrap from the big guns in the data visualization space.  Between them Tufte and Few can’t seem to generate enough print to destroy the pie chart.

“One of the prevailing orthodoxies of this forum – one to which I whole-heartedly subscribe – is that pie charts are bad and that the only thing worse than one pie chart is lots of them.”

And to be honest I was never a fan either. But the iPhone 4 changed all that. Why? Well I wanted to plot the take up rate of the new iPhone (released today on Oz) in the office. Prevailing wisdom would day column chart was the way to go – so lets have a look.

pie chart v column chart

The column chart is interesting and yes it shows relative take up of the phone to all other options but I am also interested in overall iPhone takeup as a category on its own. This is hard to see from the column but way easier to see in the pie. This is big picture stuff – relative versus absolute values.

At last a reason to use a Pie (to simultaneously view the relative % of whole and relative % of category) – hey and if we wanted to track this over time then a stacked bar or stacked area. Wow the iPhone 4 has done it again!

Disclosure:  the author of this article does not own an iphone 4 …. but wants to.  As for the guys in the other category – isn’t it time to accept the truth everyone?

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