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Apple Sent iPads to ‘Important’ Writers Weeks Before Launch

Posted in Apple, FSF, Marketing, Microsoft, Vista, Vista 7, Windows at 8:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“I’ve been thinking long and hard about this, and the only conclusion I can come to is that this is ethically indistinguishable from bribery. Even if no quid-pro-quo is formally required, the gift creates a social obligation of reciprocity. This is best explained in Cialdini’s book Influence (a summary is here). The blogger will feel some obligation to return the favor to Microsoft.”

Former Microsoft manager

Summary: How Apple’s hype machine was helped by a strategic distribution of its products ahead of its heavily-embargoed release details

MICROSOFT bribed influential bloggers and journalists for positive early reviews of Vista 7 and Windows Vista. It worked. Both operating systems were praised prior to their release. Yes, even Windows Vista got some rave reviews; it’s hard to criticise someone who gifts you with a $2,000 item. Microsoft bribes AstroTurfers in very much the same way [1, 2]. Based on the example of Andre Da Costa, they pretend to be fans of Microsoft’s products while approaching Apple at the same time to find out if they too can bribe, in which case they would “switch teams”, so to speak. Watch how Don Dodge changed his tune after Microsoft had stopped paying him to be a professional, full-time AstroTurfer [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].

“This generally shows that Apple’s and Microsoft’s marketing strategies are similar.”The fake hype company might be up to similar tricks. Yes, it turns out that Apple secretly gave tablets to famous reporters (probably for free) in advance. Why? In order to generate buzz and “receive feedback” (nice cover-up). It’s not as though the product can be re-manufactured within weeks. One of these people was Cringely, who has been writing about tablets recently, only later to reveal that he had been “beta testing the Apple tablet for the past two weeks…”

Of course he would generally be cocky towards them. They sent him this product in advance because he has influence. This generally shows that Apple’s and Microsoft’s marketing strategies are similar. We also wrote about Apple and AstroTurfing last year.

Anyway, here is a satire about the Apple iPad, courtesy of our reader David. “Defective by Design”, an FSF campaign, was there at the announcement in order to educate attendees about the harms of Apple products. There is also this petition protesting against the iPad.

Microsoft’s own tablet disappointed at CES 2010 and here is a new article about it:

HP shows off its slate computer while revealing a key disappointing detail (Windows)


That’s sort-of why Windows Mobile never really left the nerd market and Palm had great early success. Winmo required computer skills with layers and layers of OS until just recently when companies started to skin the GUI with a more friendly interface. Palm OS on the other hand was simple , but yet robust enough for most mobile computing tasks ten years ago.

Microsoft will report its financial results later on today and it will try to distract people by talking about Vista 7 sales (compared to a year of Vista and no release). It’s a decoy. Chips B. Malroy wrote last night: “The money report on the quarter should come out soon. The figure I seen was an 7% increase over last years same quarter which was really bad, and an increase over same quarter of 24% in general of new computer sales with windows on them. It was the Xmas season, and the small increase of profits, compared to the total increase in sales, relates to Netbooks (cheaper computer sold) with low cost XP home or Seven Starter be dumped on them.

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  1. Yuhong Bao said,

    January 29, 2010 at 1:02 pm


    “beta testing the Apple tablet for the past two weeks…”
    AFRIK beta testing new software is common practice for Apple. In fact, Apple has been sending pre-release software to developers for years.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Yes, but that’s beside the point.

    your_friend Reply:

    Be careful not to confuse the sharing of ideas, software, with the sharing of physical things. If they were a free software company, they would not need “beta testers” because everyone would have the software at the same time. This is the miracle of ideas, they can be reproduced by everyone at no cost to their originators. On the other hand, we can’t expect a for profit company to give away physical devices.

    Reviews are a difficult business. Gifts might look like bribery if it are not done in a transparent way. Even if it was transparent, we have to worry if we worry about the influence such a valuable gift might have over the receivers. Gifts to established review agencies like Consumer Reports and established journalists are less suspect than gifts to students and bloggers who have little else to pay the bills.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    This is especially true when it comes to Microsoft. If it wants people to review Windows, it can just send software for people to actually install (that’s part of the test). They don’t require a $2000 machine with preinstalled and optimised software.

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