Walkmans & MP3 Players
Product Reviews
Internet Resources
Web Directory
Site Map

Is there such a thing as a free iPod?
by Tara Renee Settembre

"You can't always get what you want," sing The Rolling Stones. But
sometimes you can, and for free, even New York's most popular toy for adults and teens--the Apple iPod. Although via a marketing website you may not have to pay for the hot gadget monetarily, but people are still paying for them with their time and energy.

At freeipods.com, an online site, you can get the latest iPod Photo, colorful iPod Minis and the new iPod Shuffle without spending the $250 it normally costs.

According to the rules, you must complete an offer from one of their sponsors and then refer three or five friends, depending on which iPod you choose. The more expensive models, like the iPod Photo and 40G require you to refer five friends, but if it is the small $99 Shuffle that you want, you only have to refer three friends. Once each of your referrals completes an online subscription offer, you will supposedly be mailed a free iPod.

Is this a gimmick? Not according to Manhattan resident and Part-Time Media Assistant, Tony Yan, 21, who gave the pink iPod Mini that he received through the program to a friend as a gift, since he already had an iPod of his own.

“I learned about the program quite some time ago but was one of the skeptics out there that didn't believe it was true,” says Yan. “That is until one of my friends received his iPod and I saw it with my own two eyes and decided it was legit.”

The offers that you are required to complete in order to receive the mp3 player are fairly easy ones, like joining Blockbuster’s DVD membership, newspaper subscriptions and other online programs. You can cancel the program within 30 days, but the Blockbuster membership requires a credit card and could amount to a total of $10.49 for a month’s service. Thus, for only 10.49 you are a step closer to a free iPod.

Yan subscribed to ancenstry.com for his offer and declares that it was easy for him to finish the program, “With only a bit of convincing, I was able to profit on a beautiful piece of electronic.”
However, for other participants, getting friends to sign up can be difficult and take a little more finesse.

“I think it's rewarding -- but you do have to jump through a lot of hoops to get to the end,” says 24-year-old, Kate Sundy, the writer of the popular award winning blog, Barefoot Principessa. Sundy joined freeipodshuffle.com three weeks ago and is still two offers away from completion.

The mention of free iPods has been spreading among the blogging world like wildfire, with sites begging readers to join in lieu of regular news posts. Sundy, however, is doing more than just encouraging her visitors to sign up, she is bribing them. On the top left corner of her blog she is offering to design three custom-made online banners to anyone who completes an offer through her site and she even says she will help pay for whichever subscription they choose to sign up with.

“Hypothetically, yes, it would it be easier to buy an iPod,” admits Sundy. “But, if you're strapped for cash, as I am now, then this can still be worth the effort.”

Bernie Wilt, from Oregon is also using his blog, Bernie Online at ebernie.com to advertise his iPod referral link. This technique is encouraged by Gratis Network on their “tips on referring” page.

Wilt went an extra step though by writing an article on his blog, critiquing the service, but he adds that the program is, “not too hard to do, but perhaps a little more for me because I am not aggressive or pushy.”

Wilt just finished the free iPod process and will be getting his iPod soon so he can play his music while working out at the gym. He says.

The freeipods.com service is organized by the Gratis Network, an online marketing company, based in Washington DC, which claims to ship on average about 500 free iPods each week.

Their site has sparked similar webpages designed around the same premise, including freeflatscreens.com, freevideogames.com, freedvds.com and even freecondoms.com. There are also prizes geared to those less technology minded. Now you can earn credits towards a real Prada purse and other fashionable prizes at freegiftplanet.com and freehandbags.com

Gratis’s founders, Peter Martin and Rob Jewell, both 28, of course did not come up with the idea of giving away free gifts with purchase, but instead of a mousepad or coffee mug they give out a product that is part of a cultural phenomenon.

“I think it's an ingenious marketing program,” says Yan. “Now almost everyone in the city has one, and many of which, got it for free through freeipods.com.”

Gratis pays for the different items by charging advertisers for banners and text links on their site. For each new customer lead, Gratis is paid an average of $40-60 from their sponsors. In 2004, Gratis was named the 95th fastest growing company in America by Inc.Magazine with estimated annual revenue of $4.9 million.

For Manhattan East Side resident and Graphic Designer, Russ Yusupov, 20, it only took him four days to earn a 20G iPod. Yusupov says that the site may not be for everyone and that it could take others more time to finish the process.

“I would recommend this program to anyone who's willing to spend a bit of time filling out web forms, dealing with non-believers and suffering through the long response time from the team who runs the program.”

About the Author
Tara is currently going for her masters degree in journalism at NYU and working in PR. She freelances articles for tri-state publications and writes a daily blog, When Tara Met Blog www.tarametblog.com