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Would you say no to a free laptop?

Could you write an unbiased review of the long awaited Microsoft Vista if it was sent to you – complete with a fab new laptop? Or would you feel compromised?

Edelman PR and are giving away free Acer Ferrari 1000 and 5000 notebooks loaded with Microsoft’s new Vista to selected high profile bloggers. The retail value is $1899.99 – $2,299.99 for the computer, plus the cost of the software.

I admit I would be happy to help out if one turned up on my doorstep, but would it be ethical for me to accept such a generous gift? How would you feel if you were offered such a tempting freebie?

Nobody has reported turning down the gifts, this campaign clearly demonstrates how influential the impact of blogging is considered for marketing new products. It would cost peanuts for Microsoft and ensure that word got round quickly in blogshere, as well as to the man and woman in the street. As Robert Scoble says, if you disclosed it, you have ethics; if you didn’t, you don’t, it’s as simple as that.

Microsoft have denied that it is a bribe, but will it be perceived as such? Can bloggers give unbiased views in these circumstances? I would like to think so.

I’m sure everyone is waiting to hear about Windows Vista, and what better way than from bloggers? Are you thinking of buying the new software, perhaps waiting for the reviews? Would you take more notice of what a blogger says than a newspaper reviewer?

Now, I wonder if they know my address….


14 Comments

  1. Ron Knee

    The obvious first action upon getting one of these through the post would be to wipe the hard drive clean and load up SuSe or Mandriva……….

  2. How do I get one of these ‘free’ laptops? My interest has spiked!

  3. I’d gladly accept, but then i’d also give a no holds barred review too!

  4. it’s not just geeks who buy [Microsoft] software.

    buy?

  5. Jonathan, I’m not technical either and I think Microsoft needs to have reviews from regular users like us too, it’s not just geeks who buy their software.

  6. I could probably give an very unbiased view. Give my technical nouse it would undoubtedly by very un-educated too!!

  7. I don’t really see the difference in principle between this and all the unsolicited text books sent by publishers to University lecturers for review. I have always found it quite easy to reply by saying that whilst a particular book may not suitable for general recommendation as a course text, the book is nevertheless welcome in our library, if that is the case.

  8. Despite what you say about journalists Ellee, something that I can understand but I do feel that when journalists do that they undermine their objectivity. My own personal view is that I wouldn’t feel comfortable writing about something so expensive if I had received it free. If publishers started sending bloggers books free to review that would be different, but I do feel something so expensive would be different. Its just a personal feeling and I wouldn’t disapprove of someone else but I wouldn’t feel comfortable.

  9. Ellee, is there a difference between bloggers being given free laptops to review and marketing departments threatening the removal of advertising revenue from media outlets that do not review their products in a favourable light?

    I suspect that bloggers are just as likely to give a credible review of the new operating system. If anything, Microsoft are taking a significant gamble given their low standing within the IT community.

  10. Tim, Thanks for emailing me the link from the blogger who did turn down the laptop after much soul searching on ethical grounds:

    http://joelonsoftware.com/items/2006/12/28.html

    It seems Edelman PR is in hot water again following on from the Wal-Mart fake blog. But they realise the power of the blog and want to use it to promote their clients, there is surely nothing wrong in that, as long as bloggers declare receipt of the laptop.

    Journalists are used to getting freebies and writing about them professionally and objectively, why can’t bloggers be expected to do the same? Surely they know they will be under more scrutiny for accepting the gift, that they will look weak and lack credibility if they praise all its features, particularly if some have been criticised.

  11. I don’t count it as a bribe from Microsoft. It’s more about giving people Vista on the best hardware they can, to show it in its best light.

    Acer are also involved in the promotion, and would really like people to say nice things about their premium Ferrari machines. That they and Microsoft got together makes sense.

    Regarding Vista, I’ve seen it installed on a reasonably modern machine that comfortably ran Windows XP, and it ran slowly. I’ll wait a while until Microsoft have a couple of Service Packs out and the hardware had increased in power before going near it.

  12. I’d take one and install Linux on it. Then write up the process of deleting Microsoft and installing a real OS.

  13. As long as we are giving our unbiased views I dont think it’s considered unethical. It’s just another type of marketing for Microsoft.

    If bloggers could give their genuine informative review about the product, general public would benefit a lot.

    Who would be those lucky bloggers then…..?

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