gadget blogs *are* mainstream media

Jun 24, 2009 | Press

Being a geek, I’ve been a reader of the top two gadget blogs for as long as I can remember. And being an old geek, I remember them as as upstart, grassroots blogs that burgeoned onto the scene around 2001/2002.

While I still read one of them on an almost daily basis, I’ve noticed that not all their content is interesting to me anymore. So much of it has gone from the gee-whiz discoveries of new gadgets and technologies into just talking about more consumer electronic stuff, like the next iteration of the Canon digital cameras, the next version of Blackberry. In other words, they are getting boring.

And so I recently decided that I’m no longer going to read them daily, or even put them in my A-list of RSS feeds. But as a geek, I need to justify the decision and back them up with data. And so I did a bit of tallying and charted it up:



Microsoft excel

I went thru one week of posts by one of the two web sites above (frequent readers can probably figure it out easily enough) and counted up what the post was essentially about. It wasn’t a strict taxonomy nor was it supposed to be, it was just a rough count. But it confirms my suspicion that I tend to skip over at least 2/3 of the posts that this site puts up, due to the repetitive nature, or for topics I found uninteresting, or just became overloaded on some particular semi-interesting topic.

A few observations:

  • It was the week of iPhone 3GS’s release to retail, so there were alot of Apple coverage. But still, a full QUARTER of the posts were about Apple and iPhone. I love my iPhone as much as anyone else, but it was just too much to bear even for a self-professed fanboy.
  • Apple, on the other hand, should be incredibly happy about the free publicity it’s getting. It would be hard to overestimate what this publicity is worth. And even keeping in mind the currency of the iPhone during launch week, it was STAGGERING compared to the attention that Palm Pre or Blackberry are getting. Oh, Microsoft didn’t get a single mention of Windows Mobile, sigh.
  • I was surprised how many articles were basically regurgitating product press releases. It’s like someone just took PR Newswire and just ran it through a translator. I wonder about the editorial selection for these posts: were they selected because of the public interest or something else? (Likely answer: Both)
  • Increasingly the “rehash” posts are become common. They are posts that either cross promote for other sibling sites, or just “Best of the Last Week” posts. While they are no doubt useful to some readers, they are also cheap to produce for the blog.
  • Some companies have probably done a Jedi Mind Trick on the blog’s staff., a small mail order firm in Hong Kong that sells USB gadgets, consistently get their new offerings covered. Are they really that interesting to the gadget blog readers?
  • Editorial obsessions: I don’t know if they are doing something to get so much coverage, but Lego is one of those evergreen topics that’s always on this blog. I love lego as much as the next guy (everything I learn about engineering I learned from lego) , but the blog does get obsessive with the topic. It’s endearing, up to a point, but the threshold was crossed a long time ago.

As a reader, I’m finding that these gadget blogs are too mainstream for me now. I am going to try find more gadget blogs that exercise a bit more curatorial/editorial selection. But as an entrepreneur, the fact that these blogs are consistently the most read blogs on the web means that I would love to get my products covered on them, since they are so popular. And the fact that they are quite accommodating to commercial messages mean that the chances of getting coverage is better than ever.

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