1) It's the first I have heard of a company (SAP) officially sponsoring a blogger corps as part of their media outreach at a conference.
2) Our happy little bloggers corps is being treated in the same fashion as press. We are taking up residency in the press room and have press-like access to setting up meetings with key SAP executives and such.
3) The bloggers in this group are independent in the sense that we write about Oracle, Microsoft, SF.com and other enterprise software companies on our blogs. We have no special affiliation to SAP (for example my company Newmerix is an Oracle partner, but not an SAP partner - yet!). But, we do understand the landscape from all sides very well (I can't speak for myself, but I have met a number of the bloggers in the group and they are all smart cookies).
I think this is possibly going to set an interesting precedent in the industry. It should serve as a case study for other large companies interested in bringing thought leaders into their fold to have them report what's going on at their conferences. And to do it with a balanced group of people who know the industry well.
Lastly, Ross Mayfield at SocialText has been very gracious and helpful setting up a SocialText Wiki for us (and everyone else). Please check it out and contribute to it (it's an open wiki)! You may find that you love it so much you'd like to buy one from him for your own company or event. I'm sort of the co-administrator of the wiki so please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have questions!
Here's an overview of the blogger corps that will be there. All SAPPHIRE blog posting will go on at each of their sites (We even have an OPML file for you to add all these sites to your blog reader - how thoughtful of us!):
Jason Busch - Spend Matters
Zoli Erdos - Zoli's Blog
Ismael Ghalimi - IT Redux
Ross Mayfield - Ross Mayfield's Weblog
Vinne Mirchandani - Deal Architect
Parashanth Rai - CIO-Weblog
Ramana Rao - Information Flow
Niel Robertson - Parallax
Charlie Wood - Spanning Partner
Jason Wood - The Ponderings of Woodrow