Sprint blogger giveaway backfires
When Sprint started offering free phones to prominent bloggers earlier this year - in the hope that they'd use the phones and then blog about them - BuzzMachine's Jeff Jarvis hailed the plan as "smart" and a "cheap form of advertising." But now Sprint must be regretting every penny it spent on the project.
Joel Spolsky, one of the phone recipients, published a 3,000-word screed on the terrible phone Sprint sent him, the LG Fusic. Spolsky rails on the phone's cheap plastic, lousy interface, and inscrutable music-playing systems. (The phone has not one, but two different ways of playing music, both of them bad, according to Spolsky.)
The obvious lesson? "Don’t send bloggers stuff for free unless it’s good," writes Robert Scoble. If you've got a product that's not up to par, solicit private feedback from influential types, but don't invite them to blog all about it before it's ready for prime time Scoble argues. Steve Broback at the Blog Business Summit concurs, concluding that businesses seeking to court bloggers need to "understand their audience" and "have some finesse."
One wonders if Sprint is the true villain here. C. Enrique Ortiz, another Sprint-phone recipient, notes that the Samsung phone he received in the same program was "pretty neat." LG's much-hyped Chocolate also has an incomprehensible interface. Maybe the blame should lie with LG's cell-phone software engineers, not with Sprint's blogging-outreach efforts.
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