As technology continues to seep its way into every facet of our daily lives the interest in consumer electronics has grown exponentially along with computers processing power. For years the audience that was attributed to discussing computers and gadgets were considered "nerds" by the masses and tended to skew towards the top half of the socio-economic latter. The tech journalist, pundits and critics that wrote about these products catered to a niche audience that used or even cared for a majority of the products that were released that wasn't a TV or plugged into a TV. However in the last 5-10 years technology has become a major part of all of our lives. A majority of the U.S. mobile phone market (57%) owns a smartphone of some kind and millions more own computers, laptops and tablets. Computers and consumer electronics have matured out of the awkward niche phase and are a worldwide phenomenon. Programmers are the new rock stars as names like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg are just as known as a Rihanna.
You can argue when it exactly happened or that it was inevitable but the release of the iPhone and its mainstreaming of the smartphone seems to be the most obvious and pivotal event. It was when everyday people started to view technology and gadgets as more than just boring objects, but as fashion statements that provided identity. Coinciding with the smartphone revolution, the internet become even more pervasive as did social media sites like Myspace, Facebook and eventually Twitter. These series of events and inventions ushered in a new wave of people that not only became interested in technology but began to consume it in droves.
This tidal wave of new technology/gadget users, while not as informed as the traditional hardcore followers of the industry (which grew as well), represented a larger, yet less sophisticated base. While they may not know the clock speed of the processor or care for that matter they still bought products. A lot of them. As in most industries, the "thought leaders", and "trend-setters" usually dictated what was good and the less informed eventually caught on and followed suit.
Occasionally, even more so as of late, the so-called "experts" get it wrong. Really wrong. Usually because of a combination of hubris, not understanding the market, and plain old elitism. They assume because they can't see the value in something no one else will. This happened with both the iPhone and the iPad. Countless tech journalist discounted these products ease of use, accessibility and lack of specific features and declared them failures before they were even released. Some thought the iPhone would fail because it lacked features power users were used to having on phones made by Palm and RIM. A lot more laughed at the announcement of the iPad as just a blown up iPod Touch. Both assessments lacked vision but most importantly the rabid acceptance of the technology from regular people, led arguably by design.
Combine this attitude with the break neck speeds technology is moving in and our increasingly insatiable appetite for the next big thing and you start to get "analyst" and technology pundits that can't see the forest from the trees. A most recent example of this is with Facebook's announcement of Facebook Home. Before it was even announced people scoffed at even the idea of a Facebook phone. Even though over 1 Billion people use the social network and it would be in Facebook's best interest to get a larger foothold in mobile, they couldn't get past the almost universal disgust of Facebook among the tech elite. While I mostly share the angst some people have about Facebook I'm (usually) able to separate my personal feelings to see the larger picture. This shouldn't be just a luxury but a necessity when you are a member of media that is suppose to give objective opinions on products.
By all accounts Facebook Home is beautifully designed, well executed piece of software but a lot of people in the tech crowd are already predicting its minimal impact because they and their friends won't use it. Never mind the 1.06 BILLION monthly active users, 680 million of which are on mobile. I'm not making any predictions that Facebook Home will be a run away hit but I do see the potential for it to be huge if Facebook can get over a few hurdles. One of which is getting the word out that it even exist beyond the tech crowd that already doesn't want it.
Everyone has a bias and that's ok, we aren't reporting on world politics and if you prefer a certain brand or company then that is your right, just be honest and upfront about it. Too many times people with large audiences in the media puke out nonsense based on anecdotal evidence rather than research or a firm understanding of the market either due to laziness or plain stupidity. Not considering the needs or wants of those outside of their relatively small bubble.
We've heard the drumbeat for over a year now of how Apple is "doomed" and they aren't "innovating" fast enough, meanwhile they're sales and profits continue to increase quarter after quarter. Yet the peanut gallery continues on almost predictively with their incessant predictions of Apple's demise. A majority of the complaints about iOS being "boring" or the app launcher home screen are from a relatively small group of people that tend to be power users and not indicative of the average iOS user. Apple has never catered to the bleeding edge and to assume they would shows an ignorance not only to the companies history but to the industry they're supposed to be covering. By all means I'm not suggesting Apple rest on it's laurels and end up like RIM, there are tons of ways iOS can be improved. But the urgency being placed on this change or the NEED for Apple to create an entirely new product is more about shrinking attention spans of internet dwellers and less about Apple's actual market strength.
Facebook Home Review - The Verge