Palm Pre Test Drive Bloggers' Impressions Impressive But Not Transparent

palmpre test drive.jpgTo market the Palm Pre , Sprint asked  people to apply to blog about their Palm Pre usage in order to receive free Palm Pre smartphones with truly unlimited free service from Sprint for three months. CNET chose ten bloggers from thousands of entries to write about their
experiences with the Palm Pre on the Now Network from Sprint.

The Palm Pre-centric blogging mirrors what is seen in tech blogging globally and also blurs the transparency lines of journalism even further. The bloggers say that they aren't influenced by getting the freebie Pre, praise it and when they criticize it, it's sugar-coated.

One blogger, Mathew Carruth, a software engineer in Seattle Washington and baseball blogger,  spent and entire day at the Seattle International Beer Festival and wrote, 'After a full day of rather heavy use, the battery was getting rather low, but it never ran out."

Catherine Gouge,  Associate Professor of English at West Virginia University, wrote that her first impressions of the Palm Pre were positive when she bought the Palm Pre, before she knew that she was getting a free one.  She called the multitasking "freakin' great."  She loved that the Palm Pre is "dynamic" and the hardware is "solid." She also explained in posts why she choose the Palm Pre over the iPhone 3GS.

Paula Collins, who is 57 years-old, posted "I Love this Phone" today and
wrote that the Palm Pre is a "beautiful little egg," and she "loves"
the add photo to contacts feature.

Erica Mueller, Managing Editor at, posted that she would like the ability
to forward text messages on the Palm Pre a few days after she reported:

"I was standing in line at the bank this week, waiting for the teller to
make my deposit. The Pre buzzed to let me know I had an email. I check
and answered it before the teller even finished my transaction. That's
what I call a winner!

22- year-old, Mathew Lutker did his own battery test between the HTC Touch Pro and the Palm Pre
He took photos of each phone at intervals to show after 2 hours and 25
minutes that the Palm Pre had 40% battery life available while the Touch Pro
was at 5%. The Palm Pre held up well as he worked, from 3:00-11:00 pm at
hospital. He doesn't believe in paragraphs and it appears, he writes the
posts directly from his Palm Pre.

Most of the bloggers wrote positive things at first. However, Cyn Donnelly, baseball blogger, noted that when the Palm Pre is open it doesn't feel strong and worried him, the first night he went out without his iPhone.

is a series of articles called "unboxing" where the bloggers wrote
about what comes in the box. The unboxing articles read like other
blogging sites such as Engadget or Boy Genius Report but with more

In order to find entries the Palm Pre Test Drive blog, you can't find by the CNET search function but via an ad on the top of the CNET search page.  The URL appears under the Review portion of CNET This is the part where SEO marketers will salivate, there is nothing in the URL to tell search engines that the blog is "sponsored" blog and not part of CNET.

Google News does not show the Palm Pre Test Drive blog in its results, when we searched for "I Love This Phone" by Paula Collins it did not appear in Google News. However, searching on the term "CNET Palm Pre Test Drive" on Google links to the original contest that is closed. The original contest rules show the "Special Advertising Section" above everything.  It can take up to a week for articles to be indexed and the blog posts began appearing on July 1, therefore we can't tell yet how Google or other search services index the blog posts.

The review bloggers received the  Palm Pre ($549 value without a contract) and unlimited services for three months, a $300 value.  The fact they are given free phones and service seems fairly "transparent," except that the bloggers get CNET-powered linking. Their CNET Palm Pre Test Drive bios link to their own blogs..  They can also link to anything they want in the articles they write.

One link from a well-read article on CNET could mean thousands of page views and increased ad revenue to any website, making us wish that we had applied...


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