What Is An Embargo? Read This Before You Read Any iPad Reviews

Any minute now, we’re expecting a bunch of blogs and other online publications to flood the web with their reviews of the new iPad.

It will happen at the exact same time. If you follow most major tech sites on Twitter, you’ll see what we mean around 9 p.m. Eastern.

Why? Are these publications in collusion with each other? Is there some big roundtable discussion where everyone decides to press the “publish” button at the same time so everyone gets a fair shot at page views?


It’s because Apple, and pretty much every other company or startup on the planet, likes to feed journalists information under embargo.

What does that mean, exactly?

It means journalists get a sneak peek at a new product, service, or announcement before anyone else. In return, the journalists agree not to publish the news until a time the company dictates. The benefit for us journalists is that we get to spend time with a fancy new gadget or bit of news and provide you with the best coverage and analysis.

In many cases we either have to play by a company’s rules or be late to the game.

We do it all the time here at SAI. We do it for gadget reviews, app launches, startup funding announcements, and a lot more. At any given time we — and the rest of the tech press — are sitting on a bunch of juicy information that we promised not to share with you until Samsung or Pinterest or Google or whoever says we can.

Now, if you’re a frequent reader of SAI, you know Apple doesn’t like to play nice with us. We won’t be able to review the new iPad until we lay down cold hard cash for one at the Apple store on Friday. 

But we have plenty of friends in the tech press who do get favoured treatment. We know they have the new iPad. They’ve had it for about a week now. They’ve been showing it to their friends and colleagues. But they’re not allowed to write or tweet or publish in any way that they do have it because they signed a strict agreement with Apple not to do so until the exact time Apple says they can.

The whole concept of an embargo is a holdover from the print-only era where publications would all publish their reviews on the same day in nicely designed packages. It feels a bit odd in today’s digital age where we can get news the second it happens that we’re still adhering to such an antiquated process.

Unfortunately for us — and for you — there’s not much we can do about it.


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