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A "phat number" is some marketing sales buzz factoid that is true in a specific context but mis-leading the audience in a deceptive way.

For instance saying something is 99% fat free, is true but a useless number as the sugar content is usually more important and is manufactured into foods at un-healthy levels.

Phat numbers are also commonly used in IT circles when large corporations (Microsoft/IBM/Oracle) are trying to sound up beat about their market share.
Saying McDonalds burgers have only 6% fat. (But 60% carbohydrates) is a phat number.

Saying that sweet yoghurts are 99% fat free is another phat number, because it's the sugar that makes you fat.

Detergents with claims that their product "Contains no phosphates" or 0% phosphate, when the fact is that phosphates do not exist in any detergent, so it's a phat number.

Saying something is "free" or 0 dollars when you need to hand over a credit card number before signing up, makes 0 (zero) a phat number.

IBM reports they have acquired 18000 new customers is a phat number as they do not qualify what is a "new customer". Is it clients who upgraded s/w ? or clients who have not had IBM s/w before ? Very ambigous so it's a phat number.
by giuliocc January 18, 2010
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