Multiple product reviews at the same time

Q: Jeremy,

I’ve been a loyal follower since the iPodlounge days, and I really have to say, I would be really lost without you guys. I’m the “tech support” of the family, and am constantly asked questions about iPods and accessories and such. If I don’t know it, I automatically pull up iLounge and search for the answer. Without your reviews, I wouldn’t have most of my iPod accessories!

I wanted to know why you have been reviewing multiple products at the same time. I’ve begun to notice this, especially in iPhone-related reviews. To me, this is more of an annoyance than a good thing.

Your loyal reader,

– Faisal

A: Hi Faisal,

Thanks for your support over the years. There are two reasons that we’ve published multi-product reviews so much over the last couple of years: first, the dramatic upswing in the total number of products released for iPods and iPhones, and second, the sheer number of “me-too” releases that are out there.

Most weeks, we receive not one but five or ten items that are supposedly different from each other, but are really almost identical except for really small changes. The amount of true innovation we have seen in recent years has been diminishing, and instead, companies seem to be competing with each other to release products that they believe will sell well—because similar products have already been released and sold well. Thus, this week, we saw five iPhone 3G cases that were all the same except for small differences such as texture, color, and pricing. Is it really worth writing five separate reviews?

We try to answer “yes” as often and as much as possible, so even if some reviews start with the same introductory text, they go on to explain the important differences between products on an individual basis. But with so many highly similar products out there, we will combine some information and coverage on me-too offerings in order to focus more of our energy on items that are really standouts. The alternative is to just stop covering the me-too products at all, and we’d prefer not to do that.

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