Friday, February 16, 2007

Are Gadget websites useful?

I think gadget sites are most useful for site owners themselves.

If you get a decent enough site/blog focused on gadgets going, traffic of 15000 a day means you are making at least $3000 a month, from Google adsense, affiliate deals and so on.

In the gadget blog arena, Engadget and Gizmodo are the two elephants, surrounded by 10-12 tiger-sized smaller sites. The rest of the field is chock full of small foxes drying to get a piece of the adsense action.

The lonely blogger starts early, hoping to pick up news about the latest robot from one of the Japanese/Korean sites, from his feed reader, which has more than 2000 feeds, all painstakingly researched by copying all the outgoing links in Engadget and Gizmodo, over a period of 30 days.

So, what purpose do the gadget sites fulfill?

1. Providing useful information: Do they carry useful information that the consumer might useful? Engadget and Gizmodo are slowly moving towards the area previously the domain of PC Magazine, PC World and others- carrying a judicious mix of advice and latest gadget information. The average user searches on Google for the iPod hack.

2. Existing solely for the early adopters: I tend to believe that this early adopter is a tired concept, endlessly perpetuated by the self-important crowd, which spends most of their free time ( I think early adopters have a lot of free time as well) on Digg and the uber gadget sites.

Joel Johnson, who was at Gizmodo, advises users to wait for at least a year until proper user reviews come out and then think about buying any gadget.

In fact, he goes on to claim that the average buyer is smarter than the so-called early adopter.

While the early adopter may be influenced by PR guys and Social media marketers, you never know, the iPhone for which the early adopter might pay $600 and upwards may be available for less 6 months down the line. The user can also judge for himself what the hype was all about.

3. Satisfying the brain’s need for ‘what is new’: I suspect we go to gadget sites for the same reason we go to websites featuring the latest in female anatomy. We are looking for the new ‘new’ (no offense to Michael Lewis’ fine book).

We all know that all these robots are no use for most of us and they may become usable at most 10 years down the line. However, we lap up stories about latest robots, flying cars, car/boat combines, MP3/Video machines, because our minds are addicted to this drug of new.

Joel Johnson is right:
the average user may be smarter than the early adopter, but the average user also clicks on more ads than early adopter, who has become ad- blind.

In other words, Google Adsense (for gadget sites, in this case) capitalizes on the average user’s tendency to click on any link on the page, enriching whole towns of rewriters.

The jury is still out on whether gadget sites are useful for anyone else than the site owner.



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