A sincere question about the "What's in your bag" of Verge staff
First a couple of disclaimer:
- This post is not for fanboy wars. The issue isn't with Apple or Android or Verge or Engadget, rather a general rasoning behind technology blogs world. If you want to defend your preferred company, whatever it is, this isn't the right place.
- As an happy owner of different devices from various brands, including gadgets and software from Apple/Google/Microsoft, I consider myself pretty platform-agnostic. Sure, I have preferences, as everyone but those aren't related to this post specifically.
Ok, now let's go to the real subject.
As many of you know, The Verge is periodically publishing the "What's in your bag" piece, about the devices carried by editors and writers.
It's a great piece actually, because it gives an hint at what platform, devices, gadgets they prefer, being electronic devices or lovely old school real paper notebook... it shows which products bloggers from this website use to interact everyday with their job, their life. The products they carry with themselves are obviously those they like most, better fitting their everyday needs.
Now, everyone is different. Everyone needs different things to get the job done. There are products and ecosystem that fit some, while being less efficient for others. That's normal, we are human, we are different, we have preferences and we make consequently choices.
That's the reason why market researches are made through different groups, being different by age, culture, incomes and so on. That's why advertising companies, that need to target the biggest audience possible, hire people with different ideas and taste, so they can better understand each consumer group needs and correctly address their needs.
In some way, information and news world has to do something similar. It's not only about reporting. The best newspapers and news media are those able to provide an insight. To give an opinion. To raise question when is needed. But to achieve that, you need to have people knowing the different environment. You need people to have different tastes.
In today tech world, we have different ecosystems and connected products, each other competing in the market, each one with their advantages and disadvantages. Each one able to fit better some, worse others.
But the problem is, each ecosystem shows better its strenght (and weakness) only to those that use it on a daily basis, those who have an interest in knowing every strong and weak point of the device they are using. Those are people that prefer this ecosystem to something else, because it better fit them. It's not simply a matter of personal preferences, it's a matter of having a strong interest to discover what you like to use, compared to something you HAVE to use.
And here lies the problem I have seen and others have raised in some "What's in your bag" post.
Almost every editor and blogger from this website has a strong preference for the Apple ecosystem. The combo iphone-macbook-ipad is a very constant meme in each bag. If a product from one category is missing (like an ipad) isn't because it's actually replaced by a competing platform, but rather because the writer has not a specific interest in that category.
But hey, haven't I said I have my preferences too at the beginning? Why shouldn't the Verge staff enjoy the same? Everyone is entitled to have preferences. And Apple ecosystem (and products) are really good. I see why they like them. So where's the problem?
Well, the problem is, this is a tech blog aiming to gadgets. All gadgets. From all brands. The fact there are people out there buying products from Samsung or Asus, or laptops from Sony and HP, people who choose an Android ecosystem, or a Windows one, or Linux, demonstrate what is the best choice for one isn't for everyone. I'm not talking about numbers here. Android has a bigger marketshare than iOS but for many the iPhone is still a better solution. The iPad is the most successful tablet, but an Asus Transformer is a better choice for those who bought it.
Again, the problem is, this is a tech blog aiming to all gadgets. But you cannot really understand people and their taste and needs if you don't share somehow their interest and preferences. You can be able to make a good review, but it will look superficial. Because you don't really know the product as you should do. You don't have enough interest in that product to get the best and the worst out of it.
And even more bad, you will search for the same experience you get from your devices/ecosystem. You will concentrate on the things you think are missing without understanding or even seeing the advantages you could get.
As a daily user of a Transformer, I know there are some incredibly good points and advantages that tablet is offering, that simply didn't come out from the review or they were downplayed as minor things. I have NEVER thought it's about bias. It's not. It's simply about a lack of interest to understand where such a device is shining. In almost all reviews, non Apple-product are heavily commented on those things that aren't at the same level of Apple's one, while the opposite confrontation is often lacking. Again, it's not bias. It's a natural consequence of the fact the majority of writers on The Verge know much better the Apple ecosystem and related devices than competing one.
The reason why reading a one-sided political newspaper isn't helping you to have a balanced vision, isn't because of the bias. Actually, some of these newspapers haven't really a bias, they aren't just able to see the things from a different point of view. Because all their staff and editors are so much entrenched in their ideas and knowledge that, they aren't simply able to "think different". Sure, the target those newspapers are aiming probably isn't interested about different views and ideas. And that's the reason why in tech world we have places like macworld and daringfireball, or androidcentral and so on..
"balanced" news sources in this world are formed by a variety of different journalists, with different backgrounds and opinions about politics and society. . the same should apply to "balanced" tech blogs.
So, what's the solution? it's clear we can't change personal preferences. It's what they are and must be like that. But no one is saying it's not possible to get people with different ideas and taste in the staff. As much as I hate the Engadget comment section, I have to say I'm really enjoying some of Tim Stevens reviews, on Android or Windows things, even when he's bashing a product. Because I have always a feeling he knows those products, he knows what he's talking about. The same here when I read about Apple products, but I can't say I feel the same when it comes to gadgets from other ecosystems.