I don't think Samsung Mob!lers threatened to strand bloggers at Berlin

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So I was reading this post on Hacker News wherein some bloggers were apparently threatened with cancelled flights home after they refused to man Samsung booths at a trade show.

Now, to me, this seemed rather fishy. Why would Samsung do something so obviously malicious? I had a look at the Samsung Mob!lers website, and it's pretty clear how the site works. You write articles on topics Samsung wants you to write about (there's currently one up there now asking bloggers "to showcase the extent of its [S-Voice] functionality in a fun, adventurous and creative way.") In return for writing blog posts on behalf of Samsung, you earn "points" which you can then redeem for "rewards".

Here's the page that lists a trip to the IFA consumer show as a "reward" in the Mob!lers program. So let's be clear here: the trip to the IFA consumer show was a reward for writing blog posts praising Samsung products. This is not a case of Samsung inviting bloggers to trade shows to provide coverage, it's a prize.

The TNW article goes to great pains to point out that sending bloggers to trade shows is normal fare for large companies. But that's a red herring -- these are not bloggers invited to the event to provide coverage for Samsung. They were invited to the event as a reward for writing blog posts about Samsung products. The article also goes to pains to point out that programs like Samsung's Mob!lers are common. But it doesn't go into any details about what the program entails (except to say that the Mob!lers program expects you to become a "shill" for the company).

So here's what I think happened: I think these bloggers earned their points on Samsung's Mob!lers website. In return, Samsung rewarded them with a free trip to Berlin to the IFA trade show. My guess is that Samsung made it pretty clear they would be manning Samsung booths at the show (after all, that was the "warning signs" the article talks about: fitting for uniforms and such). The bloggers probably told Samsung that they wanted to review other products while they were there and Samsung said that's fine.

Now we get to the "smoking gun" email that TNW posts. In light of the above, all the email says is that they refused to go the Samsung event and just stayed in their hotel, and now Samsung wants to send them home. It doesn't say they weren't told they would have to man the booths. It doesn't say that flights had been cancelled. Just that they want to send them home early.

And if they're not doing what they were asked to do, then why wouldn't you want to send them home early? All we have on the "cancel flights" and "stranding" is the word of the bloggers who clearly weren't interested in doing their part.

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