“I must correct my previous review – The WeTab is not good, but very, very good,” a person identified as “Peter Glaser” enthused about the new product recently.
But blogger Richard Gutjahr looked into Glaser’s profile to find that he was actually head of the gadget maker Helmut Hoffer von Ankershoffen, who had apparently forgotten to hid his tracks. Gutjahr also connected another positive review with von Ankershoffen’s wife’s account.
The CEO resigned on Monday evening due to the scandal.
Amazon removed the false praise immediately, a spokesperson said.
“Compared to the entirety of our reviews, attempts at manipulation are very seldom,” she added.
Von Ankershoffen apologised for the incident on Monday evening and announced his resignation as leader of the company.
“I wrote both of the Amazon reviews in question privately, without approval from the other company leaders or our communications department,” he said, adding that he stood by the content in the reviews.
“It was, however, a mistake not to put my own name on the ratings,” he said.
The WeTab, formerly called the “WePad,” was designed to bridge the gap between the publishing world and the internet while competing with Apple’s popular iPad.
With an 11.6-inch display, the touch-screen WeTab is slightly bigger than the 9.7-inch iPad. It also offers features not available for the iPad – a camera, two USB plugs and a memory card slot. It will run a version of Google’s open operating system Android.
Unlike the iPad, the WeTab allows publishers to choose their own paid content parameters without going through a gateway like Apple’s iBookstore.
The company had hoped its new product would appeal to elderly users, who are also a “core target group” of newspaper and magazine publishers and have limited experience with technology.
But the product, developed by Neofonie, was met with a number of critical reviews upon its release in September.