Post-Vacation Changes, or, The Koi Pond | iLounge Backstage

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Post-Vacation Changes, or, The Koi Pond

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By Jeremy Horwitz

Editor-in-Chief, iLounge
Published: Thursday, December 11, 2008
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Thanks perhaps to the economy, or what I was doing while in each location over the past two weeks, my visits to Seattle and Hawaii felt more like work than vacation time. But I did have a few free moments to think about where iLounge should be going in the future, and where the iPod and iPhone are and will be going forward.

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Over the past three or four years, we have collectively watched as Apple’s devices—arguably pinnacles of design and thoughtfulness, albeit imperfect ones—have been surrounded by tons of garbage. The first wave was in poorly made cases and chargers; the second in me-too, OEM speakers and electronics; today, the third is in piles and piles of forgettable, demo-quality applications. Behind the scenes, hundreds or thousands of iPod and iPhone developers are now praying for your attention and your dollars, hoping that you will help them become millionaires or multimillionaires at a time when the global economy is in frightening shape. It is a koi pond, but overloaded with fish.

Back when the iPod had few accessories, covering virtually everything seemed to be a good idea. But after the first wave or two of garbage began to flood our offices, we decided that we were not going to give equal time to everything out there; merit would become a key criterion for coverage, and junk would begin to disappear from our pages. Amongst other things, we created iDesign to focus on the industry’s best practices, and started to ban companies from coverage if they engaged in shady marketing practices to our readers, like posting anonymous comments praising their own products. We also started booting obnoxious commenters rather than letting them ruin the party for everyone else.

Now, a similar reconsideration of the iPod and iPhone worlds is in order, and I’m in the process of determining what will and won’t be a part of iLounge’s coverage going forward. We’re preparing to bring on a new editor in the very near future, and it would help to know what you’d like to see so that we can plan our future coverage accordingly.

So, loyal readers, I’d like to hear from you. Post your requests for future expansion/contraction here, or in an e-mail to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Thanks in advance!

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Comments

1

Is that water icy?

Posted by Galley in Greenville, SC on December 11, 2008 at 10:05 AM (PDT)

2

Please continue with the iPhone Gems series of articles- those are currently my favorite (and rendered all the more important due to all the chaff in the App Store).

I would prefer you be even more selective on which cases to announce/review.  It seems like half the posts on iLounge are related to cases (ok, I know it’s not really half).  There are a zillion cases and each one can represent 3 or more iLounge posts: a News article when they’re announced, a First Looks article when you receive them, and finally a Review.

Posted by Dyvim on December 11, 2008 at 10:25 AM (PDT)

3

I do love this site, but yes(as mentioned above), reducing down the posts to simply the reviews and doing away with the announcement and first looks posts would help get rid of some of the static.

Posted by eric on December 11, 2008 at 10:36 AM (PDT)

4

You are gonna have to stop covering so many cases.

Posted by Luis on December 11, 2008 at 10:59 AM (PDT)

5

As someone who has checked this site nearly daily for the last 4 years, I can see how overwhelmed the team must be. For me, the priorities should be:
1. In depth reviews of new Apple products and services.
2. Heads up on things that either don’t work or could damage your Apple equipment.
3. Continuation of iPhone and iPod 101/201, etc.
3. Reviews/opinion of non-Apple products where the review assists the customer’s decision making process. For example, I would appreciate iLounge’s take on a $100 product before I buy. I probably wouldn’t wait for iLounge if I was spending $5.
4. Small articles on cool apps.
5. Continued publication of both Guides

Posted by Aceon6 in New England, USA on December 11, 2008 at 11:00 AM (PDT)

6

I would like to see case reviews accompanied by a short video. a $30 case is not worthy of so much wordy review but a 2 min video and some pictures would be good enough. In depth reviews are for real sophisticated products like new ipods and major accessories. also i don’t agree with some of the ratings for cases: a really nice case gets a bad rating because it costs a few dollars more (Incase Slider), it would be better not giving ratings to simple products like cases. just pros and cons would be good enough.

Posted by Min on December 11, 2008 at 12:19 PM (PDT)

7

#1: No.

#2, 3, 4: Agreed. We’re on the same wavelength here, and have been discussing a change exactly like this for the past month or so.

#5: Really good points here. The pricing threshold has been a real question mark for the past several years, and our theory was generally to keep it a little higher than, say, $5. But given the current state of the App Store and our desire to see worthwhile inexpensive accessories receive fair coverage, this merits reconsideration in a smarter way.

#6: Agreed on the video and review length points. Regarding case ratings, we see thousands (seriously) of cases here and rate based on objective criteria of protection, value, pack-ins and design, amongst others. Incase just keeps charging a lot for cases with no pack-ins and poor front protection. We have made these concerns known to the company and are hoping to see them addressed in 2009.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on December 11, 2008 at 12:35 PM (PDT)

8

I like all the features #5 mentioned, plus I like the earphone reviews.

I probably fall into the obnoxious commenter category at times, but I think I’ve come to appreciate iLounge’s direction, it’s great to see thorough, pertinent and wonderfully articulate reviews, coming from what I would say is a non-geekhead, non-gadget-fan direction. So thanks from a former Buffalo resident!

Thinking back to my last app store visit, I felt like I had to weed through a lot of questionable apps to get to the more worthwhile items. Hope it won’t get so bad that the case review workload basically get replicated by app reviews.

Posted by Leon on December 11, 2008 at 7:05 PM (PDT)

9

I would like to see more attention given to the iPods themselves. Ask iLounge is my favorite section, and lately the updates have been irregular, which is a pity - I miss the days of the weekly updates.

Posted by Luciano Guimaraes on December 12, 2008 at 3:12 AM (PDT)

10

The main reason I come back to this site is for the “Ask iLounge” and Editorial articles. We need more of those! I enjoy reading Jeremy’s opinions of where things are going, and knowing how to do things in iTunes only helps with all the questions I get from friends and family on how to operate iTunes.

Posted by Daniel on December 12, 2008 at 1:47 PM (PDT)

11

I would love to see more iphone gems, maybe make them weekly.  Cut down on case reviews because they over crowd it.  I am more interested on what goes into my iphone than what goes on the outside.

Posted by Dan on December 12, 2008 at 2:15 PM (PDT)

12

I especially enjoy the iPhone Gems series (“we buy the bad software so you don’t have to” smile but would prefer they be easier to navigate, with a banner/rating for each product and the ability to sort products alphabetically or by rating (realizing that can mess up the flow of narrative a bit in some cases).

The previews vs. reviews thing is confusing to me too.  Sometimes you don’t actually ever seem to get around to reviewing something you preview - an example is the Callpod Dragon headset, which I bought on the basis of your preview back in September and a reasonably positive review from David Pogue, but which I’ve been pretty dissatisfied with overall.  Should I have interpreted the lack of full treatment as a mark of the product’s mediocrity, or just a lack of time?

Also, an easier-to-navigate “reviews and accessories” page would be *very* much useful. I was looking for cases for my 2G iPod touch recently, and couldn’t figure out any way to simply get a list of 2G touch cases sorted by rating.  In the end I just used your buyer’s guide, which was a terrific read, and have been quite happy with the recommended case I bought.

Nevertheless iLounge is still miles above any other similar sites… the way in which you place the products you review in context is so refreshing.

Posted by Nicholas Riley on December 15, 2008 at 6:04 PM (PDT)

13

off topic from the discussion, but is the photo from the restaurant in Hawaii where you get to feed the koi while you eat? My kids loved that place!

Posted by bjeung on December 15, 2008 at 11:25 PM (PDT)

14

I read four sites on a daily basis: Gizmodo, Defamer, BoingBoing, and iLounge.  Of these, iLounge is the most conservative (not politically) in tone, and, as such I don’t feel really welcome to comment.  I tend to prefer snark.

I can’t expect iLounge to ever be as snarky as Gizmodo or Defamer, and it would probably fail if it tried.  However, I could get behind iLounge loosening up a tad.  Engadget, I think, strikes a nice balance between snark and serious coverage.

Posted by alex on December 16, 2008 at 1:08 PM (PDT)

15

If I can offer another suggestion, please limit your moving adverts.  I mostly read the mobile version of iLounge on my iPhone because the number and dominating presence of the adverts on the full site give me the shivers.

Posted by alex on December 16, 2008 at 1:13 PM (PDT)

16

#8, if you’re still able to post, you’re not in the obnoxious category. #9-#10, Ask will continue to be a weekly column, and thanks for the kind words.

#12: Agreed, and the confusion is going to be remedied. The Callpod Dragon was put on our very low priority list because we were really unimpressed by it. You can be confident that if something really excites us, we’ll be talking about it quickly.

#14: You can choose whether to comment or not, however, we have no desire to shift our tone to resemble or approximate the sites you’ve mentioned. A published Gawker memoranda identified, explicitly, a tone that its sites should follow:

“We need to put back the Gawkeresque angry-creative-underclass glint to our voice. Just one glint of nastiness per post. ... If someone succeeded, find a way to slap them.”

We view this sort of writing as dishonest—creating strife and snark purely for the sake of amusement—and absolutely, positively will not stoop to that level. You can choose to read whatever you want, but you’re never going to see that sort of crap here. Thankfully, not all the sites on your list follow such practices.

#13: Nope. It was at a resort hotel.

Keep the comments coming! They’re being read, and appreciated.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on December 16, 2008 at 1:43 PM (PDT)

17

I read iLounge several times a week. My favorite column is Ask iLounge. The recent iPhone/iPod Touch Gems has been a valuable addition to help me decide which apps to download. Please continue these columns. I also appreciate the in-depth reviews of new iPods and peripherals and tutorials such as iPod 101/102 and guides to backing up & transferring your library.

I don’t know that it is necessary to review new cases in as much depth or with such frequency. Search engine needs improvement.

Posted by Aurora on December 28, 2008 at 7:19 AM (PDT)

If you have a comment, news tip, advertising inquiry, or coverage request, a question about iPods or accessories, or if you sell or market products, read iLounge's Comments + Questions policies before posting, and fully identify yourself if you do. We will delete comments containing advertising, astroturfing, trolling, personal attacks, offensive language, or other objectionable content, then ban and/or publicly identify violators. Wondering why we're talking about something other than iPods? Check the Archives: Backstage has been here and kicking it since 2004.

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