[R] Size of R user base

Kevin S. Van Horn kvanhorn at ksvanhorn.com
Mon Apr 19 20:12:47 CEST 2004

I have been trying to determine the size of the R user base, and was 
asked to share my findings with this mailing list.  Although I still 
don't have any definite estimate of this number, I do have some 
interesting and indicative information:

1. It appears that there are about 100,000 S-PLUS users.

Rationale: According to Insightful's 2002 Annual Report, over 100,000 
people use Insightful software; since license revenues from S-PLUS and 
add-on modules accounted for nearly all of their license revenues in 
2002, and their other products are much more costly than S-PLUS, it 
seems that the great majority of users of Insightful software are S-PLUS 

Conclusion: S-PLUS costs $3500 (Windows) or $4500 (Linux/Unix) for an 
individual copy; R is free.  This suggests that there may be more R 
users than S-PLUS users, which suggests > 100,000 R users.

Does anyone has any other information that would give some notion as to 
the RELATIVE numbers of R and S-PLUS users?

2. At least one R book has achieved sales of just over 5,000 copies.  (I 
could not find sales figures for other R books, as it appears that 
publishers are closed-mouthed about such figures.  And no, I can't 
reveal which particular book this was, so don't ask.)

Conclusion:  Very few books sell to more than 12% of the population of 
potential buyers, and most books have a far lower penetration -- 1% or 
less is not uncommon.  A 12% penetration for the book in question 
implies 42,000 R users; a more reasonable 5% penetration implies 100,000 
users.  A low 1% penetration implies 500,000 users.

3. There are a total of 3225 unique subscribers to the three R mailing 

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