Mixed messages, contradictory claims trip up Gartner, Cisco, and Apple

Confusion reigns in Gartner's about-face on Microsoft, Cisco's payback in China, and iPhone's conflicting share in India

Reversals of fortune were on the menu this week in the tech industry, starting off with a Gartner analyst who predicted Apple OSes were set to overtake Microsoft. According to Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner, Microsoft's lead in sales of products running Windows -- Windows devices handily outnumbered those running Mac OS and iOS last year -- would evaporate by 2015.

But not so fast -- Gartner soon recanted, saying the prediction was based partly on incorrect data. Milanesi now says Microsoft will regain momentum, rebound with a new category of ultramobile devices, and pull away from Apple again.

Is anyone really paying attention? After all, the consistent part of Gartner's prediction is that Android will continue to dominate the market, beating the combined sales of Apple and Microsoft products this year.

Then again, the analyst firm has a history of backtracking. Recall, if you will, the glaring about-face by a Gartner analyst who denied calling Windows 8 "bad" and subsequently pulled the offending line from his blog post, saying, "my overall opinion on Windows 8 is actually really good." More recently, Gartner had to futz with its labels when PC shipment numbers didn't quite match its claims, but it wasn't alone in that regard -- IDC had to revise its predictions too.

At least Gartner's slipups won't likely require U.N. intervention, which may yet be in the cards with news this week that Cisco's sales in China are vulnerable after state-run media said the company poses a security threat and urged a shift toward domestic suppliers. Talk about role reversal: Not so long ago, Chinese network company Huawei was hounded out of the U.S. market by security concerns. In order to clear U.S. regulatory oversight for its purchase of Sprint, Softbank reportedly agreed to remove equipment made by Huawei from Sprint and Clearwire.

The U.S. government also recently passed a law -- aimed in large part at Huawei -- that tightened scrutiny of information technology purchases from companies with links to the Chinese government. China slammed the legislation, saying it would "damage the mutual trust between the two nations," not to mention what it could do to Cisco's bottom line.

In light of this political posturing, other dubious assertions seem almost quaint. For example, Macworld UK this month trumpeted the fact that Apple's iPhone sales have "rocketed in India," quadrupling in that crucial, growing market. So what's the deal with IDC reporting this week that Apple's devices fell out of the top five in India during the first quarter of 2013? Seems contradictory -- someone's about to eat crow, right? Not so: Android handsets actually hold a staggering 90 percent market share in India, so Apple's sales could indeed quadruple -- and barely make a dent.

Tune in next week for another episode of "As the World -- and Tech Fortune -- Turns."

This article, "Mixed messages, contradictory claims trip up Gartner, Cisco, and Apple," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.