iPhone conflict of interest

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One of the biggest supporters of the iPhone is David Pogue of the NY Times, his column seems to be the definitive source when it comes to all things gadget. A positive review from him can help sell thousands of units and that is a lot of power. However what happens when a reporter takes it upon himself to write a book on a device that he gave a positive review on? Is his honesty called into question because the device’s success will correlate directly to his book sales?

It was big news when David was seen sporting one of the illustrious iPhone’s weeks before launch. This of course gave him a huge advantage over not only his rival reporters but over anyone that was planning on writing a book about every trick and feature. His access essentially gave him a head start on virtually everyone and as a result gave him the opportunity to make a profit if the device was the success it seemed destined to be. Did this slant his review? Was he honest about all the little bugs that he must have come across? Were all the jealous people around him begging to touch or even look at the Jesus Phone corrupt the true vision of the device?

These things are impossible to know but should a reporter with an inside look on a product be able to make money in direct relation to his positive review? One would hope that reporters would have the decency to avoid publicly reviewing a product it intended on making a profit off of. Some might point to the fact that gifts are often given out to reviewers which can help influence the final review of a product. This is a common practice in the motion picture industry, they fly you into a nice city, put you up at a swanky hotel with gift bags and free meals, certainly hoping that this will get that reporter a little more excited about the newest Robin Williams movie. This is also the case in the world of electronics, can one imagine how an opinion of a product might change if a particular company was always letting you keep its top end products? That 50″ Plasma might seem a lot more attractive on your wall than in a press release.

Many things are changing in this information age and with newspapers struggling more than ever some ethical standards are falling by the waste side. I for one trust what Mr Pogue has to say and believe that his newspaper stands for nothing but integrity and the high standards that we all wish everyone lived by.

I am by no means accusing David or anyone else of anything improper but a lot more questions arise when situations like this come into play. Few devices have or will have the impact like the iPhone, I for one hope that in the future the profits will be left to those that don’t review the products.

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