Her majesty has read every single Amazon review comment on the Kindle since 2 weeks ago. That’s right, as of now the number of review comments stands at 861. She can verify qualitatively the quote from this article from Squidoo based on her reading it, and following up by reading some of the associated blogs.
Out of 254 one star reviews, 251 of them are from people who haven’t actually bought a Kindle. Only 3 reviews of are from people who claim to have bought a Kindle, and at least one of those is decidedly dubious.
At the opposite end of the spectrum half of the 214 5 star reviews come from people who own a Kindle or have used one.
It gets worse. Some falsely tear apart features that are in direct conflict with the features stated on the same page. For example, complaining about the $600 price tag. At the top of the page, it clearly states it’s $399 with 2-day free shipping. Others say it doesn’t support Mac’s which is untrue as many Mac users report it works just fine. On and on… the ignorance and lack of research is astounding.
…or is it? Conspiracy theorists co-workers seem to think competitors paid others to put false and/or negative reviews there. Quite plausible. If it were true, I’d contest it only constitutes 1% of the total posts there. People are dumb and do not read. When I worked as a Clerk (dude who takes your money when you pay for gas or lottery tickets at the convenience store) , we had all kinds of bold, bright signs on the door. No smoking, shoes required, no beer if you’re drunk, etc. People never read them.
Not to pick on a demographic, I used to troll the blogs, correcting any comments made on Flash & Flex. Many un-educated articles were written by tech-journalists that needed facts correctly represented. Many developer blogs, some well known, had made incorrect statements wrapped in prose to make them hard to extricate and looked at fairly. After 4 months, I gave up. Even just staying within the Adobe blog sphere bubble was a full-time job. My point is, even “engineers” who do web & software development, touted for their technical knowledge, don’t read either and aren’t held accountable for the bs they spew on the interweb and put in the public record (findable by Google).
People like JD constantly remind us how a lot of these people are not held accountable for what they say, and yet their words can influence multitudes of people. Therefore we must be extra careful to judge harshly the validity of what we read online. Systems are easy to game, and there is no accountability.
In the end, this is also an effective PR tool. Although the Kindle is selling like hotcakes, selling out of stock within days, the liberal press here in the states reports that “it’s not doing so well”, “being received negatively”, “Based on the number of 2.5 star reviews, only half of Amazon’s customers seem to have a lukewarm reception”.
Three lessons here. First, “public reaction” is different online. Aka, you cannot trust it being an accurate portrayal of those who matter in the reaction. There are a lot of people who are haters or greifers; people who manage to have time on their miserable hands and use that extra time to be negative towards others merely for the sake of being negative. The Kindle is selling well and being received well by those have actually received it and used it. Read the reviews that matter; read the blog posts that are relevant.
Second, when researching things online, the amount of negative press is not always directly proportional to the level of suck of what you are researching. I bash Flash & Flex all the time, but that doesn’t mean they don’t rock they mic. They do, I love ’em both. I am just of the opinion that things can always be made better and so I use my bashing as a way to either provide hints at the troubles users may have with the products, and hopefully possible solutions.
Third, no one does 1 and 2 (was that cynical?). Therefore, you can really affect public perception by posting negative PR about a product or service, even if untrue. The positive of it is, even in the negative, you can sometimes glean some good information about what specifically people don’t like; valid or not, and react on that hopefully to make things better.
For the record, I don’t want a Kindle, and could care less. The common demographic is 42 years of age, on up.
Via her majesty.