They are nothing more than thinly disguised glossy advertisements, commissioned or penned by the very people selling the product that comes blazing through the paper with more fanfare than the Oscars. They are disguised just enough to make the unsuspecting reader believe that it is an independent, unbiased and fair view of the products in question. This is like taking democratic advice from Robert Mugabe.
I have read a ton of white papers over the past year while trying to decipher fact from fiction in the ERP world. There are papers on how much better Oracle is than SAP, or SAP than Dynamics, or Dynamics than Lawson. The list is endless and if one believed them you would have to purchase them all or none at all.
So by all means go ahead and read them but question the source, independence and fairness. Here is a quote from http://www.freelancewritingsuccess.com/stelzner1.php
White papers help people make decisions and are actively sought after.
Consider that an astonishing 70% of information technology professionals rely on
white papers to make purchasing decisions in the U.S. (ITtoolbox, July 19,
That my friends, if true, is a disgrace to our profession.- Paul Steynberg