Tag Archives: Tech Reviews

Feb 17

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Gadgets, Marketing, Press, Products, Stage Two

Stop Enabling Mediocre Technology

Enabling personality types tend to minimize obvious problems, “protect people from negative consequences” and suffer from intense denial, among other psychological traits. While the urge to enable is “born out of love,” the results of this behavior are ultimately destructive. A loved one makes excuses for an addict in the family because they feel that this will help them. In reality, though, it only encourages and prolongs the negative actions.

In my mind, many tech reviews – both professional editorial content and amateur user comments – enable mediocre products by overlooking their obvious flaws. These articles give glowing impressions of consumer technologies that are clearly “not ready for prime time.” The reviewers and commenters are acting from a place of love. They think they are helping by engaging in this behavior. They may feel strongly that a certain company makes great devices and they really want other people to feel the same way. But what winds up happening is that these individuals make excuses for devices that are lacking in quality and the entire tech industry suffers as a consequence.

The quotes below are from positive product reviews. The names and quotes have been altered to protect sub-par devices:

I’m sure it will improve over time.”
- Top Tier Blogger

“This device has a lot of potential.”
- Well Known Gadget Site

“There is a ton of potential here.”
- Tech Review

Again, these quotations are from three and four star reviews. This kind of cognitive dissonance happens all the time. Never mind that the device breaks sometimes, or that it’s missing some core functions at launch. It’s still a good purchase, say the enablers. And because we refuse to call out bad consumer tech, the manufacturers feel they can get away with shipping so-so products. As long as there is sufficient “hype,” “buzz” and “social interest,” who cares if the gadget doesn’t work that well?

This enabling happens in every sector of the lifestyle electronics industry. Take almost any product in the smart TV space, for example. Not that great. But you wouldn’t know that from all the noise. These devices have been written up – for the most part – as a good first try and well worth investing in. Android mobile up until 2.1? Same apologetic story (I can’t remember if that version is called Hot Chocolate or Snow Cone).

Every member of the CE industry needs to deliver on the promises of amazing tech. We all need to work together on this and raise our standards, not lower them. When a product doesn’t work – we should say so. If a device ships with a lot of “anticipation” but doesn’t deliver on its promises, we need to say that, too. If most products are written up as “pretty good,” it makes it harder for consumers to distinguish the truly exceptional devices in the field.

16% of Galaxy tablets are returned. Why? The enablers are partly to blame (although with those numbers there is plenty of blame to go around). The bottom line is that we all need to approach tech from the perspective of a consumer. We need to hold companies accountable for shipping bad products. Not in a nasty way, but in an honest way. When that starts to happen, I believe that the overall quality of consumer tech will improve. By encouraging people to purchase products that do not perform as they should, we tacitly encourage bad behavior from the industry as a whole. And that is the definition of enabling.

Jan 20

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Gadgets, Products

Windows and Android Tablets are Coming- But For Who?

Apple recently released their sales numbers for the iPad, and the device seems to be catching on.

Apple shipped 14.8 million iPads last year, generating $9.6 billion in revenue. Last quarter alone, it shipped 7.3 million iPads for $4.6 billion in sales.

And, as Tech Crunch noted, no one saw this coming. Both industry analysts and tech bloggers failed to predict the success of Apple’s tablet. Jeremy Toeman even thought the iPad could be a technological bread machine; a device that starts out with a “hey this is kind of cool factor” and then loses its appeal and usability over time.

Before the iPad, no one was buying tablets. Now, everyone is buying them.

So other computer makers have jumped on the Tablet bandwagon. CES was full of Windows tablets and also a few Android Tablets. (This is not the place to argue whether or not Android will make a great tablet. They won’t. Apple COO Tim Cook has even dismissed Android tablets as “bizarre” and vaporous.) This article points to a serious question for the consumer electronics industry: Who are the target users for these non-Apple tablets?

If hardware manufacturers are shipping $500 tablets, who do they expect to purchase them?

No consumer will want to spend more than $500 for a Windows or Android tablet. At that price point, they will simply purchase the iPad. It is desirable, it is stable, it is fun and has a cultural allure attached to it thanks to Apple’s brilliant design and marketing. If you went to the store and wanted to buy your Aunt Mable a tablet, would you get her an Acer tablet or an iPad? Exactly.

Even pricing below $500 is problematic for Apple competitors. A $300 tablet is just close enough to the iPad’s price that people will probably wind up mowing a few extra lawns or clocking some overtime to get their hands on the genuine article from Cupertino.

At $250 people may simply opt for an iPod touch.

I hate to give the entire touch market to Apple, but it is hard to imagine a scenario where non-Apple tablets show similar growth in such a short time. So where do Windows Tablets thrive? Here are a few sectors that present real opportunities for non-Apple tablets.

Apple Haters

There is a small, dedicated group of Apple haters who will support non-iPad tablets. They do so for mainly ideological reasons and although they have a vocal presence in some corners of cyber-space, they make up a negligible portion of the total tablet market.

Medicine

We are quickly approaching a world where medical records and information will be displayed on tablets. Windows and Android devices could thrive in this vertical.

The Military

Someone is going to sell the Pentagon a lot of secure, battle ready tablets. Smart manufacturers should keep an eye on this space.

Kids

A “cheap,” sturdy tablet for kids is a no-brainer. Part coloring book, part media player, part game center- think Leap Pad on steroids.

To conclude, there are a number of specific verticals where Windows tablets and Android devices can grow rapidly in the coming months. But for average consumers, the iPad remains a desirable, functional device that people seem to enjoy.