Makeover Monday – Week 2, 2017: iPhone Sales between 2007 and 2017

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Every week for #MakeoverMonday we look at a different data visualisation and provide the Tableau community with the underlying dataset so they can create their own take on it, improve the original viz, try out new techniques and tell a story with data.

Finding the data for this week’s challenge

Last week we looked at the gender gap for high income jobs in Australia and this week it was my turn to find a viz and the data for our weekly challenge. I chose iPhone sales as the topic, because exactly 10 years ago today, on the 9th of January 2007, Steve Jobs announced the iPhoneSteve Jobs announced the iPhone.

The iPhone has been immensely popular in the years since it was first released and sales figures always provided much discussion material for the media. The original visualisation appeared in an article questioning whether Apple have lost their edge as sales dropped for the first time ever in 2016 compared to previous years.


What I like about it:

  • it’s a simple bar chart that immediately shows the sales trend in the data
  • with the y-axis starting at zero the bars let me compare sales quite easily over time
  • the colour scheme is simple and appropriate for showing the annual increase in units sold in blue and the first reduction in red. This draws the reader straight to the problem
  • the bars are labelled with the total sales figure for each year, providing additional information
  • I also like the font, nice and clear
  • they list the source of their information
  • overall I appreciate that they really kept it simple compared to other charts I have seen (e.g. here, here and here)

What I don’t like:

  • where is the explanation, footnote or comment that readers would expect for the asterisk next to the 2016 header?
  • I find the title a bit odd. Have iPhone sales peaked? Clearly they didn’t in 2016 and that’s the latest data I would look at and that’s where I’m drawn to because of the red bar in the chart. My answer is “they may have peaked in 2015” but is that what the author is implying? I can only assume that they want us to focus on the drop in sales in 2016, so a heading to that effect would be useful. Maybe a simple Have iPhone sales peaked in 2015? Or Did iPhone sales peak in 2015? which sounds a bit more grammatically correct.
  • I don’t like the bevel effect on the charts. It looks very ‘Excel 2007’ and isn’t adding anything of value to the visualisation. Additionally, the red bar doesn’t have the bevel effect applied (at least not that I can see). I would prefer them to be consistent. And without the bevel, just flat and simple. Details matter.
  • I think the grid lines don’t add much value either, I would remove them as well as the y-axis because the labels on each bar should suffice
  • while we’re at it, let’s also simplify the background to a single colour: white or grey or black, but without the gradient
  • a minor point, but they could have simply suffixed the labels with an ‘m’ for millions and use the subtitle to refer to the fact that sales are in units. This would save space on the chart and leave more room for the data

What I did as a Makeover:

This week, rather than pursuing my original design idea of a viz ‘on’ an iPhone, I decided to just address my criticism of the original viz and improve what dazeinfo published.

For that purpose I simplified their viz and added tooltips and a couple of annotations for some additional information.

(Click on the images to view the interactive version on Tableau Public)

The final viz
The tooltips provide additional information for the reader

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