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Bible Survey Results

A total of 6,024 people have participated so far in the Bible Software Survey 2005 as I write this. Even though not all Bible software companies have encouraged their users to participate, I think the number is sufficiently representative to show general trends, and to merit some general comments. ([Ed.] Results have been updated with data from more than 9,000 respondents).

After some thought, I have decided to post the original statistical results. Graphs are much nicer, of course, but since many of the questions have a lot of different choices, they would probably become more confusing than helpful in this particular case. Besides, I don't have the time right now to do anything fancy ;-) If somebody with some free time to spare and artistic abilities wants to design some graphs, just let me know :-) When you look at the results summary, keep in mind the famous saying (attributed to Sir Winston Churchill), "there are lies, damn lies, and statistics." No survey is absolutely objective or accurate, but it does help us see some general trends.

Judging by the answers found in the first section (User Background - Questions 1-7), we might be led into thinking that the majority of Bible software users are male Bible Study leaders, aged 46-55, with a Bachelor's degree, who have never attended Bible College or Seminary, have no formal knowledge of the biblical languages and visit a Christian bookstore once a month or so. But looking at it more closely, we would find out that a good number of them are in fact "professionals" (pastors, missionaries, professors, and scholars) and "would-be professionals" (students).

Much more reliable seem to be the questions that have to do with technology (11-14). Most users work with a desktop system, but the number of notebooks and handhelds is significant. As a matter of fact, it is not uncommon for people to have desktops and notebooks or/and PDAs (more Palm devices than Pocket PCs, by the way). Window users with a DSL Internet connection abound, but the Macintosh market share is a lot larger than usually granted. This could explain the recent move of a few companies to release Mac products in the coming months.

Questions 15-18 deal with the general use of Bible software. Many people use these programs for topical research (60.1%), followed very closely by personal study (55.8%), but exegetical work takes the lead if we add Passage-by-Passage exegesis (50.3%) and Original language word study (48.7%). Obviously, respondents use the same software for various purposes, as most choices here are not of the and/or type. What I find interesting and stimulating is the fact that quite a few of them state that they use Bible software everyday, spend an average of 4-6 hours a week studying the Bible, and perform most of their study with the help of electronic resources. On top of that, the majority consider themselves to have passed the "basic user" stage. Maybe too good to be true? I don't really know.

The "thornier" part of the survey has to do with assessing the different Bible software products available. For one thing, I don't think it is fair to ask someone to evaluate a product he/she doesn't know anything about and/or has never used. Having said that, the results are not a big surprise. According to the survey, Libronix DLS and Accordance lead the field on the Windows and Macintosh platforms, respectively. Runner ups on the Windows side are Biblesoft, which has quite a following, and BibleWorks, which is perceived as being particularly good for scholarly Bible study.

e-Sword is ahead of Online Bible in the Freeware/Shareware section, while Laridian (MyBible and PocketBible) beat Olive Tree (BibleReader) by a mere 2%. Finally, BibleGateway.com is the most widely used Bible study website.

We'll probably have more to say on these results, but for the time being you can check them out for yourself and draw your own conclusions. Of course, one of the most interesting parts for me is the last question (i.e., suggestions for Bible software developers, requests, etc). But I will need some more time to review them in some detail and give you a summary of the most recurrent issues.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 17, 2005 7:40 AM.

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