The April issue of Wired has a lengthy piece on gadget blogs. Most of the focus is on Gizmodo (disclosure: Valleywag is owned by Gawker Media, parent company to Gizmodo) and the rise of the gadget blogs in influence and reach. It's worth a read, but if you're too busy frantically reloading Engadget and Gizmodo to read the whole thing, we've tagged the high points below.
- "This is a business where every minute counts," Lam wrote.
- Like a couple of rival hometown newspapers, Engadget and Gizmodo have seen their competition develop into a full-blown feud, complete with charges of malfeasance and sabotage. Gizmodo's publisher, blogging impresario Nick Denton, has accused Engadget of being "amateurish" and "gullible."
- [Engadget editor] Ryan Block, for his part, offered only minimal comment for this story: Lam is a former Wired contributor and assistant editor, and Block said he was concerned that Lam's relationship with the magazine would prevent Engadget from getting a "fair shake." He even forbade Engadget employees from talking to me at CES.
- "They have audience, and they have influence. They are right up there with Walt Mossberg." As a Samsung spokesperson puts it: "Gadget blogs are the future of the world for us."
- "They have to figure out what they want to be when they grow up," says David Pogue, who reviews technology for The New York Times and reads both blogs regularly. "And they are going to continue to stub their toes along the way."
- Despite the heated competition, neither site appears to be damaging the other's popularity. Most business battles revolve around a scarce resource — audience or customers or money. But in this case, the battle for readers is not a zero-sum game. "Nothing stops people from going to both," says Jeff Jarvis, media blogger and director of the interactive journalism program at the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism. "This is a natural state of media. It's good for everyone."
- Victories and bragging rights are won in seconds. Lam talks about renting a different apartment so he can be on a FedEx route that receives deliveries before Block.
- Engadget is cool and straitlaced. (One typically direct headline: "Sprint Announces Massive Layoffs, Store Closings Amid Subscriber Defection.") Gizmodo revels in cheap jokes and hedonism. Its writers regularly proclaim their love of alcohol, marijuana, and Jessica Alba. Las Vegas would seem to be a very dangerous place for them.
- Around 5 pm, Jason Calacanis — who cofounded Engadget's parent, Weblogs, Inc., and sold it to AOL in October 2005 — inadvertently wanders into Gizmodo territory. Calacanis immediately spouts off: "Fuck Gizmodo. Engadget rules." Then he throws up three fingers twisted into the shape of an E, the Engadget gang sign.
Calacanis' outburst is a reminder of what really motivates both sites — more than money or prestige, it comes down to a frat-like rivalry, driven by boyish egos and measured in pageviews.
- Richard Blakeley, a cameraman for Gawker Media and Gizmodo, was armed with a little device called TV-B-Gone. He prowled the floor, extinguishing the demos and displays that are CES' lifeblood. Four days later, however, Lam posted a story titled "Confessions: The Meanest Thing Gizmodo Did at CES," which included a video documenting the escapade.
Four days after he uploaded the clip, he posted a response to his many critics: "Bloggers and trade journalists, so desperate for a seat at the table with big mainstream publications, have it completely backward ... No matter how much access the companies give us, we won't ever stop being irreverent."
Not as long as it pays off. The TV-B-Gone video received some 679,000 views by February 22, making it Gizmodo's most popular CES story.