At 9 p.m. Eastern on the nose today you’re going to see reviews for the iPhone 5 hit a few select blogs and newspapers.Why?
Because that’s when reviewers made agreements with Apple to hold publication in exchange for early access to the iPhone 5. (That’s assuming USA Today’s in-print goof from this morning is correct. I thought the reviews would go up Wednesday at 9 p.m.)
Is Apple alone in this practice? Nope. Tech companies give reporters early access to devices all the time as long as they agree not to write about it until a prearranged date and time. For example, I had the Kindle Fire HD for five days before I was able to write my review on it, per my agreement with Amazon. I’ve had similar agreements in the past with a bunch of other top tech companies like Samsung, Motorola, Nokia, HTC, etc.
But unlike most tech companies, Apple is insanely selective with who it lets review its products ahead of time, so you won’t see writeups on the iPhone 5 in a majority of publications tonight. Instead of letting all major publications get a chance to review its stuff, Apple has a handful of journalists with a history of saying positive things about the company that it gives early access to. That means David Pogue, Walt Mossberg, John Gruber, Jim Dalrymple, and the like.
Am I saying product review press embargoes are bad? I don’t think so. In fact, in some cases, I think it’s better for readers because reviewers are forced to spend a good amount of time testing a device before writing about it. That gives the audience a much better idea what it’s like using a product.
But it is important to know how these things to work behind the scenes. And it is important to know that tonight’s reviews come from Apple’s cherry-picked group of journalists who are more likely to give the iPhone 5 a positive review.
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