Apple just announced a new operating system they want me to buy.
I went to their website to read the reasons why and, of course, they are presenting it as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Of course they would say that.
Of course we, as a manufacturer, would say the same about our new products. We both would write exciting marketing pieces because we are excited about the new products we just released.
Should I believe them and buy on faith? Should you believe us and buy on faith? It depends on a few things: the company's track record with me, the need for what they are offering and the thoughts of others that have tried it. It's this last piece I want to write about.
Reviewer reviews as opposed to peer reviews.
Reviewers get early releases of a product in all industries. Reviewers have relationships with the people and products they are reviewing. Reviewers have tons of experience with all the types of products they review. Reviewers know more than I do with the subject. I think general wisdom suggests that their greater knowledge of the field lends them more credibility and thus I should place more trust in their opinions. Nothing could be further from the truth for me. I think what actually happens is I feel less connected with a reviewer; they aren't like me. Everything that qualifies them as a reviewer separates them from me.
Peer reviews, on the other hand, mean a lot more to me. If my neighbor comes over and tells me he just installed the new OS and loves it, I am sold. That's all it takes. He is just like me.
When I was looking for a new pair of loudspeakers for the listening room, I had a short list I was willing to consider. I read all the reviews and formed a small opinion of which to choose from. It took two days of reading reviews to get close and one friend's confirmation to put me over the edge.
The punch line is this: my friend knows no more about the subject than I do, certainly less than either a reviewer or a manufacturer, and that is the entire point.