A gift is a gift is a gift. If Google is sending their top Adwords customers and Adsense Publishers gifts every Christmas, and hardware companies sending tech forums (like AnandTech) regular review copies of new video cards or processors, how is that different from the one Microsoft did? Intel actually did a similar marketing earlier with their Intel Blogger Challenge — a free Core Duo or Core 2 Centrino laptop in exchange for blogging about their experience with it.
I didn’t hear any scandal over that one or did I just missed it?
I think it’s because this time, it was Microsoft that did the attempted bribing. Had it been Steve Jobs sending out Apple Macbook Pros to bloggers asking for a review in exchange of the free laptop, we’d been hearing cheers and jeers for a brilliant marketing ploy.
I guess it’s not always what you do but who you are that determines the ethics of the deed.
Likewise, do you ask your doctor which drug companies are sending him gifts before buying those prescriptions he wrote for you?
Again, if you’re too picky, treat it as advertising. Don’t tell me you’d send back a new
Mazda 6 Lancer GT 2007 from Mitsubishi or a brand new house & lot at Valenza from Crown Asia if they send it to you as gifts in exchange for a review or endorsement.