MS SPOT Watch, My Wife and Blogs

My wife just started a class on Information Systems for her MBA. Last night she came home from her first class with a new version of the Microsoft SPOT watch (Suunto N3). Apparently Microsoft has made an arrangement with Seattle University to have students test market the watch in certain classes.

Not only that though. The students are supposed to create a blog and blog their experiences with the watch. Then, at the end of the quarter, the URLs for all the blogs will be turned in to Microsoft.

This is interesting on a few fronts:

1) Cool- my wife gets to try out a SPOT watch (which means I do too). I’m interested in seeing what it’s all about (and seeing my wife blog).

2) The class is being asked to use blogs. She said that some of the people in the class asked “what’s a blog?�? Interesting that it was assumed that people would know what to do. They were told to use

3) Is this a new form of blog-enabled test marketing? Test marketing has always been about getting people to use a product in real life, but I don’t remember people reporting their experiences so publicly via blogs.

At first I thought that the blogs were just a handy way for Microsoft to collect information. Then I realized that there is likely more to this story. By asking participants to blog their experiences with the SPOT watch, Microsoft is enabling a blogosphere buzz machine while doing market research- killing two birds with one stone.

Product + required blog reporting = Buzz. I suppose it could backfire, but I thought it was an interesting development.