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Editorial: it's not my fault your favorite brand sucks

Chris Ziegler

It's yours. Allow me to explain.

Last year, I mentioned in a post that the "C" in "Nokia Cseries" could stand for "crap." Taken alone, it's pretty easy to construe that as a swipe at Nokia -- but looking at the post as a whole, it was patently obvious that I was making a joke (a bad one, maybe, but a joke nonetheless). Alas, I took an old-fashioned whooping from commenters anyway.

"Wow. Bashing a series that's just a trademark filing is going too far," one said.

"Of course, it could also stand for 'crap.' So that must be exactly what people think when they see 'C. Ziegler', right?" said another.

And this isn't a fluke -- it's a pattern that repeats itself on a daily basis. I certainly don't want to generalize, but there's a significant contingent of individuals who are actively looking for a reason to justify their hardheaded belief that Engadget (and other top-tier technology sites) are somehow responsible for their brand's hard luck.

Now, longtime readers who are familiar with my writing and the Engadget Mobile podcast know that I'm not an Apple fanboy, I'm not a Microsoft fanboy, I'm not an Android fanboy. I'm just a phone fanboy, that's it. I like to look at the good in every platform, and appreciate every phone for what it brings to the table. Likewise, I'm not afraid to hate on a phone, either.

I love the iPhone for turning the entire industry on its ear and setting the bar for music integration. I hate the iPhone for treating developers like meat and for throwing away essential features. I love Nokia for proving that a smartphone could have mass-market appeal. I hate Nokia for failing to advance Maemo years ago, for moving S60 at a glacial pace, and for ignoring the needs of North Americans for ages. I love Android for rethinking notifications and for taking location-based services to the next level. I hate Android for taking an odd approach to multitouch, for all but encouraging fragmentation of the platform, and for failing to properly incentivize manufacturers to get out devices early and often (I guess that last part is Google's fault more than anything else). I love Samsung and LG for staying hungry and forcing everyone to keep up. I hate Samsung and LG for producing countless anonymous midrange flips and sliders.

And the list goes on. The point is, there isn't some media-wide conspiracy to put Nokia and Microsoft out of business and ensure that there's an iPhone in the pocket of every man, woman, and child. There just isn't. Think about it. Quite the opposite, actually -- our coverage is simply a reflection of pop culture, of our readership's cross-section, of the topics that are going to generate buzz and interest.

So why do we get in trouble whenever we say something that could even remotely be misconstrued as bad-mouthing a non-Apple product? I think it's because we're accessible. It's human nature to want to defend the things you like, and the comments section of a site like Engadget is a whole lot more accessible than Nokia's boardroom.

Now, occasionally, I find something legitimately wrong with a product I'm reviewing, and I report it. Same result: I'm threatened and called names I can't print. I'm told I'm on Apple's payroll. This is where I really take issue, because those readers are only hurting themselves by continuing to buy into a product, feature, or idea that's uncompetitive.

It's okay to be a fanboy -- enthusiasts are the heart and soul of Engadget, and we love them. They're the reason I do what I do. But try to understand that even your favorite phone may not be perfect. Try to understand that by giving even your most loved brands a hard time once in a while -- by not blindly buying into their crap -- you're going to help them make better, awesome-er products down the road.

The way I see it, when competition heats up, everybody wins.

Reprinted (and modified) from my personal blog at

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