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Last week, software technical support services employees were elated with vindication when a website identifying itself as Canadian web consultancy firm, Aptiquant, released a survey of “100,000 internet users” which showed that those who choose Microsoft’s Internet Explorer over other web browsers were markedly less intelligent. For the majority of tech geeks and web enthusiasts, the findings proved something they’d seemingly known for years: only dummies use the default PC web browser. The survey hit the blogosphere like wildfire and caught the attention of major news networks overnight.
There was only one problem: the survey wasn’t real, and neither was the web consultancy firm that had allegedly conducted it.
Despite being one of the first major news organizations to break the story, the BBC looked into the survey a little harder this week after readers started to seriously doubt the validity of the findings. Granted, nobody thought the survey was scientific or a true indicator of Internet-user intelligence, but what the BBC discovered did shock everyone.
It turns out that Aptiquant, the firm that claimed responsibility for the survey, was completely fictitious despite the creator of the hoax going to great lengths to conceal the true nature of the imaginary consultancy. The Aptiquant website included images and data lifted from a French web-development firm.
The firm, which calls itself Central Test, published a press release denying any connection to the incident other than the fact that their website had been mirrored.
Unfortunately, for the countless computer technology connoisseurs who have been forever adamant about the appalling weakness of Internet Explorer, proof that the web browser is linked to low intelligence continues to be under scrutiny.
However, the pseudo-scandal does shed light on the ongoing battle of the web browser. Internet Explorer still struggles with a reputation for being the nitwit’s way to the net. The sentiment is so widespread that it took a week for anyone to bother to validate the claims made by the fictitious Aptiquant. Even though the survey was always viewed as just an elbow to the rib of IE users, it was considered believable that a survey of the habits of 100,000 web-users would result in those who prefer IE having lower intelligence on average.
So for Microsoft, who have been very optimistic about the positive reception of IE 9, the whole story is still depressing even if the survey isn’t true. It means people are willing to believe that Internet Explorer and idiocy go hand-in-hand. Survey or not, the prevalence of that sentiment is what should keep Microsoft’s IE department up at night.
Category: case study