I got an email like this a couple of years ago -- apparently someone liked my work on bsdiff. 175 USD of stuff from the Google Store plus a gift; in my case, the gift turned out to be a modular pocket knife (http://www.quirky.com/products/35). (Oh, and it had "Google <3s your work" printed on it -- so it wasn't just a left-over.)
I think it's great that Google has a program for recognizing open source developers; that said, they seem to be going a bit far afield with their "give people something cool they might not have yet". I think they'd do better to send people Android phones -- at least that is something people would be more likely to use.
I suspect that nearly everybody already has a blanket or two unless they live in Borneo or the like. It's a little like Google giving out food. A blanket is a basic necessity and aside from destitute street bums, people generally already have enough. I'm wondering if Google is subtly suggesting that open source devs can't pay their own bills?
Then again, it's also a little like Google giving out t-shirts. Maybe they're assuming that everybody could have one more?
Well, when you have blankets sitting out on couches and the like all the time, at some point they become part of the decore. So even tho I have many blankets, I really would be OK with another. Additionally the ones that get used get worn out, dirty, or even boring (like tshirts) so a rotation is nice.
On the one hand, it's nice to be acknowledged for work done. On the other... In my more recent full-time corporate gigs, I encountered various "reward" programs.
For example, one was for 5 years' service. The "reward" consisted of an email notification containing a link to an external web site and some authentication method, along with so many "points" of credit based on the circumstance. I could pick any item whose point count did not exceed my allocation. I think I ended up with a toaster (that's what 5 years service is worth, apparently, and since my current toaster toasted unevenly, my choice was made).
My point? This "acknowledgment" was outsourced to a firm that does this for a living. With rewards that are fairly cheesy and/or that have inflated "values" assigned to them. It felt more like an "anti-acknowledgement".
My firm either sent a list (in Excel, perhaps -- hah!) of events and corresponding email addresses, or let the third party troll some HR database for same. I'm sure that they paid some fee based upon headcount and/or events.
The third party sent your selection to fulfillment outfit (i.e. warehouse) that mailed you your selection. If your manager was not particularly paying attention, the whole thing could and did happen without their participation, at all.
So... Google appears to be assigning somewhat larger "values" to some of these rewards, and to be doing them externally. And so, they are also actively reaching out to these external contacts.
On the other hand, at a glance it has the same sort of feel. Assigning "values" (perhaps/likely at some set of pre-determined levels) in conjunction with some third party who's been contracted for fulfillment. And a typically bland and... "corporate" set of reward items.
I agree with the other commenter here who suggested just sending them a phone (or tablet?). That would seem to be more "Googlish" to me and, for all that it might represent less "choice", might represent more value from the perspective of the recipient. For those who don't need it, we almost always have friends who could use one. Sort of in line with the "sharing" perspective under which many of the external contributions that aided Google were made, in the first time.
TL;DR: I would suggest keeping the gifts more "Googlish" (branded random generic "stuff" doesn't count) and avoiding scenarios akin to my 5 year anniversary (and a few others I could mention).
P.S. I'll add that I am a formally acknowledged (publicly listed) external contributor to Google, although I didn't receive anything for it. If someone had offered, and cash weren't on the table, a phone or tablet would have been nice. If I didn't need it, I would have had several family and friends to choose from in passing it on. And -- a "free" gift from Google (via me) would have been good marketing to them, as well.
So, I'm just some random guy with his thoughts, here. But... again, stay "Google" and don't go all "corporate" (e.g. "corporate rewards and fulfillment).
(Some parts of) Amazon used to do a similar thing for new hires - use the recommendations system to make up a personalised "book bomb". Of course recs is pretty good at "give people something cool they might not have yet" but sometimes it did err on the side of quirk (I would never have bought silicone oven mitts but they actually turned out to be a big hit)
What's wrong with getting a blanket from Google? (along with $175, actually) We always keep one in our living room, handy for occasional dozing on the couch. You can give one to a homeless guy and he will be thankful for it. After the earthquake in 1999 here in my hometown in Turkey, we received thousands of them from all around the world (got one from Greece and was thankful for it). Cats love them, you can use one for the floor to make a winter home for street cats... etc.
Regardless, it's an unnecessary qualifier. Most readers here can take the leap of faith that yes, the title was written correctly, as they wait about 2 seconds for the link to load. Who cares, it's just a title, but all things being equal it should be removed.
I've gotten this reward from Google devs twice now. First time it was tricky to find some things on the Google store: But I managed to get myself a nice medium-weight Google jacket and a Google cutting board (!). The second time was even trickier, I already had everything I wanted. I ended up getting my girlfriend a Google jacket as well - thankfully she liked it! Amusingly we get asked all the time if we work at Google, because of the jackets, which is not true. I considered lying to the strangers that asked but reconsidered and went with "I have a friend that works there and he got me the jacket." I've even had one lady on the subway start asking me questions about the Google search engine, unprompted. Tech-branded outerwear definitely results in some weird conversations.
I should mention, weird Google loot not withstanding, that I think this program is awesome. Giving Google devs an outlet for giving something back to the Open Source devs that they like is really appreciated. Obviously financial contributions are even better but that can be logistically tricky and this seems like an easy middle-ground.
They might be older than that. I used to participate in Google Answers (remember that?) circa 2002-2003 or so and even got certified to answer questions for cash. I got a polyester blanket embroidered with the Google logo as a christmas present for no reason.
I was baffled by the title, after some consideration I decided it was probably a metaphor relating to the diseased blankets given to native indians and that google was offering to help open source efforts while covertly killing them.
After reading and discovering that it was literally just blankets I am as baffled as before.
Looks like an open and shut case of Google being hilariously evil again. What's going to happen when they run out of blankets, huh? Are they are going to shut that down like Reader? I just don't know who to trust anymore.