In just the past couple years, I’ve noticed something: My colleague John Murillo, who shoots and edits video for TechCrunch TV, has increasingly become one of the most popular people in any room he enters. Anywhere we go on the days we shoot video, whether it’s a startup office or just a pub to grab some lunch, everyone wants to strike up a conversation with him to ask about his camera equipment. The lenses, the shutter speed, the megapixels. It’s become clear that it’s no longer just the professionals or the early adopters who are into talking about gadgets — nowadays, it’s the mainstream.
The people over at Engadget, the gadget-oriented blog (which, disclosure: is owned by AOL, which owns TechCrunch too), say they’ve noticed the same thing. So over the past few days they’ve launched a top-to-bottom site redesign, with a host of new interactive features, aimed at appealing to a larger-scale audience — an Engadget that’s not just for the early adopters, but for “the early adopter in all of us.”
Many elements of the new look, such as personal profiles, product profiles, pricing comparison engines, and the like, are being folded in from Gdgt, the consumer electronics review site founded by Engadget co-founder Peter Rojas and former Engadget editor-in-chief Ryan Block that was acquired by AOL earlier this year. In a phone call this past week, Ryan Block and current Engadget executive editor Marc Perton said that this integration was not initially planned when AOL acquired Gdgt back in February — but it soon became apparent that it was the most logical next step.
“There was so many more commonalities than we expected between Engadget and Gdgt,” Block, who currently heads up the product team that has now shifted from Gdgt to Engadget, said. “So all of the best things about Gdgt are now in Engadget.”
The changes also set Engadget up to be an online destination for the mainstream electronics buyer looking for help with a purchasing decision, in addition to the hardcore gadget geeks that have read Engadget since its inception. This puts Engadget more squarely into competition with the likes of Consumer Reports and CNET, in addition to its existing competitors in the gadget blog world. It’s a big step, but it’s one that Block and Perton say is coming at a perfect time.
“We’re evolving. We’re going to continue to tap into the traditional tech enthusiast market — we’re not going to dumb anything down,” Perton said. “But at the same time, we’ve got a much broader market than ever before. People who had never thought about electronics have now become the early adopters.”