The Sad End: How Apple And Facts Killed Consumer Reports

How do most companies die? They continually shoot themselves in the foot. So ends the once prestigious Consumer Reports, the magazine for shoppers with an attitude. The Consumer Union publication lost its way and succumbed, not to the internet, or better publications, but to its own vanity and ill mannered, illogical, and factually deficient reviews.

Through the years, Consumer Reports has been a haven for seemingly unbiased, reasonable product reviews. In their quest for continued glory in the face of the faceless internet reviews by the millions, CR decided to seek publicity first, and deal with facts later (not even second).

My case in point started with Apple’s introduction of the iPhone 4 a couple of years ago. Remember Antennagate? Not many iPhone users remember the so-called antenna problems the iPhone was supposed to have, because the phone actually had better reception than most other phones.

Consumer Reports couldn’t recommend the iPhone 4 because of their belief that a reception problem existed when it really didn’t. They refused to apply the same standard to other phones and suffered loss of prestige and reputation.

The most popular smart phone in the history of mankind, Apple’s iPhone, couldn’t be recommended by Consumer Reports.

Along comes the new iPad. It’s warm. What does Consumer Reports say? The new iPad was hot. Hot I tell you. Or, rather, a little warm. You know, warmer than last year’s model.

Consumer Reports doesn’t stand as an island. They have competition, particularly from tech journals online. Other tests showed the new iPad to be a little warmer than the earlier iPad model, but cooler than many popular Android tablets.

Why did Consumer Reports jump out in front of Apple’s iPhone 4 antenna reception? Because the company sensed a wave of publicity. But it backfired. They shot themselves in the foot.

And they did it again with the new iPad. Hot? Or, merely incidentally warm, but a non-issue since every other device can get similarly warm? Consumer Reports failed to stick with the facts on Apple’s iPhone, and failed again with the iPad.

It’s sad to see Consumer Reports end like this; shouting like a crazed fool to anyone who will listen (or, read) to their noise about the sky falling in. It’s not. Except maybe for Consumer Reports.

UPDATEMaybe we bloggers have more influence than we think. As of April 2nd, 2012, Consumer Reports has issued a recall on their initial iPad review. Now the new iPad is tops.

Where’s the retraction for the iPhone 4, CR?

Comments

  1. CR should stick with reviewing washing machines. They don’t have the technical chops to rate electronic products such as Macs, phones, and tablets. I cancelled my subscription after their iPhone debacle.

  2. Great article!

    Thanks for exposing CU and their “National Enquirer” articles

  3. It is sad, really. CR used to be the ‘go to’ place for product reviews. They were trusted by millions.

    It wasn’t just Apple that killed Consumer Reports. The internet didn’t help the company. The internet is so sensationalist and error prone and CR couldn’t withstand the pressure of acting like everyone else online.

    I once had a CR subscription but cancelled it after the Antennagate debacle. CR was just so wrong in how they present that mess.

  4. Do not read CR any more do not trust them.

  5. Consumer Reports has always been run by a staff of people who just don’t get it. This is the same company that said dishwashing liquid makes a terrific shampoo and it’s cheaper.

  6. CR surprised me with their attacks on Apple. It just didn’t make sense. The only reason had to be sensationalism.

    Every smart phone has similar antenna attenuation issues. All of them. But the iPhone 4 was still so good that nobody cared. Who do you trust? Apple or CR? People voted with their pocketbook. CR lost.

  7. Good summary. CR simply blew it. Their credibility is gone. Apple sold about 100-million iPhone 4’s, despite CR’s overly biased and hypocritical review. If only they had applied the same criteria to other phones on the same issue, and then summarized by saying, ‘All smart phones have an attenuation problem.’

    Goodbye, CR. May you rest in peace (in the hole you dug for yourselves).

  8. R.I.P., C.R.

    I cancelled my subscription right after CR’s stance on antennagate. My iPhone 4 was the best phone I’ve ever owned and reception was beyond remarkable.

    The only phone better than an iPhone 4 is the iPhone 4S.

    Consumer Reports is a relic from the 20th century. They never made the transition to the internet world. Well, wait. Maybe they did. CR is as sensationalist as TechCrunch, Engadget, Gizmodo, NYT, and Mike Daisey, so maybe they did make it to the 21st century. They have exactly the same credibility as TechCrunch, Engadget, Gizmodo, NYT, and Mike Daisey.

  9. When you employ Luddites, you get Luddite reviews. The problem with CU is that the mistakenly thought they knew everything. Case closed, dead issue, nothing to see here, move along…

  10. Consumer Reports has never been a place to look for technology reviews. In the rare event that they review anything recent enough to still be on the market, their categorizations and priorities make no sense, yielding recommendations that are at odds with most people’s needs. This has been true for decades, especially about Apple.

    Consumer Reports is great for cars, dishwashers, scooters, or other relatively low-tech devices. If you subscribe to CR for their tech coverage you’re willfully misinforming yourself.

  11. Dropped CR years ago when they reviewed products and services I have explicit knowledge of. Including appliances, tools and Apple Macintosh. Can’t trust them. Not sure what their agenda is/was but they failed me 20 years ago……..end of story.

  12. CR lost me long ago when they declared Donald Duck (frozen) orange juice a go-to product … but the comments here are right on. They’re good at small appliances and a few other things, but just not in the right league when it comes to genuinely technological products (or food items, bu that’s another story).

  13. Consumer Reports has become Weekly World News. It is even worse than the National Enquirer.

    I cancelled my subscription a few years ago when I realized that their reviews had too many holes in them. Consumer Reports reviews couldn’t be trusted.

    Now that we also know that they are biased publicity hounds, they lost whatever credibility they had left.

    Too bad.

    Consumer Reports use to be good.

  14. CR blew it for me when they reviewed a Mac tower back in the nineties when the shockingly uninformed reviewer blasted it for not having an Ethernet card. It had 100BaseT right on the motherboard! It was not as some afterthought item used for turning a junk PC into a business PC. Shortly after, the local elementary school took the money awarded it for a Mac lab and cutting edge educational software and bought PCs with absolutely archaic software (I swear it must have been ported from an Atari ST.). Why did they go with PCs? Because CR said Macs could not be networked. Not only were the kids affected, but 1 in 10 of the PCs failed so badly that they had to be retured to Dell and replaced.

  15. I think you are trumpetting the death of Consumer Reports just a bit too quickly. While it’s true their track record on the iPhone is bad, okay make that awful, their primary reason to exist is NOT to review smart phones.

    Once Consumer Reports is shown to have not expertise, or no objective view, on the hundreds of products they review yearly, then you can starting writing their obituary. It’s still a bit early for that.

  16. The sad truth is that Consumer Reports is dying. They’re no longer relevant and face daunting competition from hundreds of review sites online, each with thousands of reviews from real life customers with real life experience with various products.

    CR was great back in the day. That day has come and gone.