Bloggers Bribed By Microsoft With Free Ferrari?

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Dec 29 2006
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Blogging communities are buzzing with news that Microsoft Corporation (Nasdaq : MSFT) together with Advanced Micro Devices Inc (NYSE : AMD) gave out some Acer Incorporated (TPE : 2353) laptops (Ferrari 1000 and 5000 series) to selected bloggers this year just before Christmas. Some called it early Christmas present, some called it a bribery and some even accused these bloggers who received the laptops of being bought over easily with the laptops.

Brandon LeBlanc reported got one, so do Scott Beale , Mauricio Freitas, Mitch Denny, Long Zheng and Zen.Heavengames, plus many other bloggers who are believed to have yet to receive it due to the Christmas rush.

Acer Ferrari 5000 which comes loaded with Windows Vista has the specification as follows:
  • AMD Turion 64 X2 (dual-core 64-bit) running at 2GHz, with 512KB L2 cache per core
  • 2GB RAM 667MHz DDR 2 memory configured in dual-channel mode
  • ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics processor with 256MB
  • 15.4″ WSXGA or WXGA, 16 ms, widescreen
  • Bluetooth 2.0;- carbon fiber casing
  • 802.11 a/b/g wireless LAN
  • 5-in-1 media card reader built-in
  • 1.3 megapixel digital camera built-in
So, is there a conspiracy theory that Microsoft is buying over bloggers to write nice and good review about Windows Vista? But according to Microsoft manager responsible for the promotion, Aaron Coldiron, technically these are “review” laptops. He quoted the statement made to each of the bloggers: “you are welcome to send the machine back to us after you are done playing with it, or you can give it away on your site, or you can keep it.”

But Microsoft doesn’t make laptops, does it? It didn’t send out a loan laptop with a free copy of its operating system, it sent out a laptop to keep. That’s the problem being argued by readers. Blogger Scott Beale said Microsoft’s PR company, Edelman, had contacted him and offered him a “present” of a free laptop with “no strings attached”.

Apcmag however argued that the laws of reciprocity make humans want to do something nice in return for gifts given. I agreed that professionals should be cautious about accepting gifts or freebies, whichever you call it. Furthermore this gift is worth at least $US2156. – so somehow the credibility of bloggers who received it could be at stake.

A blogger, Brandon LeBlanc, mentioned on his blog that he’d ‘traded up to’ a new Acer Ferrari notebook from his old Dell XPS 1710, but neglected to mention it was a gift from Microsoft. Hours later, after being savaged by reader comments accusing him of being a sell-out to Microsoft, he added a note to the end of the story disclosing the gift. But the damage has already been done – criticism spread of Bloggers kissing up to Microsoft, Blogger didn’t disclose the expensive gifts, Microsoft buying good reviews etc.
I’m just wondering if all the criticisms will spread like wildfire should Microsoft decided to give everyone a Acer Ferrari. Nevertheless do you think these bloggers will write an honest and transparent review about Vista now that the Santa Clause has given them a present they couldn’t believe?

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