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Old 11-14-2011, 04:40 PM   #1
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TechCrunch: The Death Of The Spec

http://techcrunch.com/2011/11/14/rip-spec/

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We’re starting to see backlash against reviews of products that just do spec-by-spec rundown. Because really, who cares how the device sounds on paper? It’s how it feels that matters. Is the Kindle Fire smooth? Is the Nook Tablet fast? Is the iPad a joy to use? Drew Breunig spoke to these things last week in a post entitled “Device Specs have Become Meaningless“.
...
I agree. Why base reviews around specs when specs don’t matter?
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But the post-spec era works both ways. If the iPad specs don’t matter when going up against the Motorola Xoom, they also don’t matter when going up against the Kindle Fire. What matters is how the device performs, the ecosystem, and the price. In other words, the way you compete in computing now is to do so by focusing on things that human beings understand. On things that matter.
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Old 11-14-2011, 04:56 PM   #2
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Why base reviews around specs when specs don’t matter?
Cause to some users, they DO matter and are good for bragging rights and they make for some interesting arguments on occasion.
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Old 11-14-2011, 05:01 PM   #3
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Because the specs are the starting point, but not the final say of course. If I don't see SDHC in the specs it is a no-sale for me. There are other must-have items for me as well. However, once I find a few devices that meet my needs then the subjective things come into play.
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Old 11-14-2011, 05:04 PM   #4
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The question is if this approach to selling still works in the post Steve Jobs era. Specs matter for every other product, TVs, cars, PCs, printers, cameras, etc. Comparing specs is part of (definitely not the only thing you should be looking at, of course!) the process of deciding if you are getting your money's worth or are asked to pay a lot of money for something that was made with cheap components.

Wide and easy availability of content should make it easier to not be tied into one eco system with any device.

The rise of Android is actually bringing the spec wars back in force for phones (yes, not for tablets at the moment). They all run a good operating system and have a great eco system, so specs and the service provider become the only differentiating features.

And one last thing --- do specs really don't matter? I would like to argue that a lot of Kindle Fire users would in the end be a lot happier with their devices if Amazon had upped the specs and sold the Fire for $250.-. Even though most users don't realize that, the device would run better and could do more. It is like buying a car with a bigger trunk, a lot of people don't care about it when making their purchasing decisions, but a bigger trunk makes for a better car.

Last edited by HansTWN; 11-14-2011 at 05:19 PM.
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Old 11-14-2011, 05:20 PM   #5
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Comparing the KF to the ipad is ridiculous considering the price points. But how smoothly a device performs is very much tied to it's specs. There's nothing wrong with only needing or wanting the average or bare minimum. But if you want an above average experience, you best pay as much attention to what the inside has got going on. One may get different accounts regarding performance and usability right out the box. One reviewer's standards may be quite different from another reviewer's. For instance, there are differing opinions of how well the KF's Silk browser performs. Tech specs, on the other hand aren't biased. You know exactly what your money is paying for. The key is knowing which specs to may attention to and which to dismiss. In my case, I make sure to pay extra attention to memory, display, storage, dimensions and weight. For me, buying a tablet is no different than buying a laptop. Sure I could make do with 1-2 GB of RAM in a notebook. But I'm glad I'm knowledgable enough about computers to know I'd regret it later.

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Old 11-14-2011, 05:24 PM   #6
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The question is if this approach to selling still works in the post Steve Jobs era. Specs matter for every other product, TVs, cars, PCs, printers, cameras, etc.
No they don't. Not at all. Most people buying cars won't buy the Kia over the Toyota even if the Kia has 170 HP and the Toyota only 160. When buying cars, the vast majority of people are much more interested in the quality of the ride, the car's reputation for reliability, etc. And not specs like acceleration, horsepower, torque. And raw horsepower isn't a very useful spec for most people.
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Old 11-14-2011, 05:32 PM   #7
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No they don't. Not at all. Most people buying cars won't buy the Kia over the Toyota even if the Kia has 170 HP and the Toyota only 160. When buying cars, the vast majority of people are much more interested in the quality of the ride, the car's reputation for reliability, etc. And not specs like acceleration, horsepower, torque. And raw horsepower isn't a very useful spec for most people.
Specs for cars include a lot of other things. MPG is a very important spec for most people. So are head room, leg room, trunk space, quality of sound system, GPS, the kind of seats, manual vs automatic transmission, etc. Specs are in no way just HP. Even if you decide on a Toyota, you will still make the decision which Toyota to buy based on price and specs.

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Old 11-14-2011, 05:40 PM   #8
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Specs for cars include a lot of other things. MPG is a very important spec for most people. So are head room, leg room, trunk space, quality of sound system, GPS, the kind of seats, manual vs automatic transmission, etc. Specs are in no way just HP. Even if you decide on a Toyota, you will still make the decision which Toyota to buy based on price and specs.
Exactly. Only and idiot buys an expensive product without paying at least a little attention to specifications. Specs encompass alot of things. Some are just more important to certain people than others. It's also a huge basis for comparison against other products in similar price ranges. The smart consumer does their homework regarding hardware and balances it with user reviews.
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Old 11-14-2011, 05:45 PM   #9
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Specs are part of the story but not all the story.
Note the key phrase in the quote by the OP: "Just do a spec-by-spec comparison".
That is just plain lazy to start with and, yes, that kind of reporting deserves to die.

A proper review can quote specs, but it's not necessary.
What is necessary is to report what the product does, how it does it, and how it matches up to its *intended* customers' needs.
After all, no product is going to meet *everybody's* needs; what it needs to do is meet the needs of enough customers to make a profit.
And good reviews need to provide enough hands-on experience to give prospective customers a hint of what the product is like in real world usage which is something spec sheets alone can't do.

As for cars, the likes of Car and Driver routinely fill their letter columns with protests from readers upset that since car A was a fraction of a second or a half pound lighter or a few hundred dollars cheaper, only an idiot would choose car B over it.
Much fun is made of them.
Properly.
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Old 11-14-2011, 05:45 PM   #10
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Like I've said before on some other places... Why buy a car that goes 400 MPH when the speed limit in your state is 20-75?

As for tablets, it's less about the specs and more of what you can do with it. A Wacom made Android tablet would be amazing, especially with the new Adobe products about to come out. It could have only 1GB of space and people would still be going WOW over it.
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Old 11-14-2011, 05:54 PM   #11
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Why buy a car that goes 400 MPH when the speed limit in your state is 20-75?
Because you grew up watching speed racer?
Because you just turned 40 and your bald spot is too big to hide with a comb over?
Because another face lift would leave your belly button in the middle of your chin?
Because you're in the market for a new trophy spouse?
Because you want everybody to know you can afford a mechanic on retainer?

Seriously: luxury products are about emotion, not logic.

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Old 11-14-2011, 06:00 PM   #12
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Of course. :P.
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Old 11-14-2011, 06:05 PM   #13
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Whether specs matter or not depends not only on the device, but on the users as well. Basing reviews on specs may not make a lot of sense, if that's all there is to it, but to leave them out makes even less sense, and the reason it makes less sense is because the user base doesn't spend evenly. The casual market, who doesn't care about specs, they buy their Kindle and they buy a new one when they need a new one.

However, the ones who do care about specs are also the ones who ditch their current gadget to buy a new one when one with a more powerful CPU comes out. They spend more, and they spend more often, and if you write reviews for that demographic, specs are essential.

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Like I've said before on some other places... Why buy a car that goes 400 MPH when the speed limit in your state is 20-75?
Who obeys the speed limit? Translating your car question back to electronics, that is a very good reason to buy a devices with higher specs. Who cares how a tablet does what it was built to do? I want to know what it can do. Reading the specs and compare them to other similar devices is often the only way to discover that.
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Old 11-14-2011, 06:05 PM   #14
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Of course. :P.
More importantly -- who cares about speed limits?
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Old 11-14-2011, 06:44 PM   #15
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It's not that specs don't matter, but that they other things may matter more. You can't say some tablet is better than the iPad just b/c it has more memory or a faster CPU, because there are other overriding reasons someone may prefer an iPad. But you can definitely say the iPad 2 is better than the iPad 1 based on specs alone (price notwithstanding). Likewise, given two equally priced tablets running the same version of android, I'm inclined to go with the one with better specs. So yeah, show me the freaking specs.
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