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Google Portables Technology

Would You Use a Free Netbook From Google? 435

Glyn Moody writes "The response to Google's Chromium OS has been rather lukewarm. But suppose it's just part of something much bigger: a netbook computer from Google that would cost absolutely nothing. Because all the apps and data are stored in the cloud, storage requirements would be minimal; screens are getting cheaper, and the emphasis on lean code means that a low-cost processor could be used. Those relatively small hardware costs could then be covered by advertising in the apps — after all, they are just Web pages. Interestingly, Google has not only rolled out advertising to more of its services recently, it has also started running AdSense ads in the desktop application Google Earth. Would you accept a free Google netbook — or is the price you would pay in terms of the company knowing even more about what you do on an hour-by-hour basis just too high?"
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Would You Use a Free Netbook From Google?

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  • A free _netbook_? (Score:3, Informative)

    by E-Sabbath ( 42104 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @11:36AM (#30214238)

    Considering the uses I'd have for a netbook, yes. It wouldn't replace my main computer. It'd be a walking about sort of tool. If it had a cell modem in it, so much the better.

    Yeah, I'd allow it for a netbook. Advertise all you want.

  • No I won't (Score:4, Informative)

    by godrik ( 1287354 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @11:37AM (#30214262)

    I won't use a machine which is useless without network. I don't like to rely on an internet connection because some times it breaks. I want to be able to store files on my computer and use it on the plane. And I want to be able to do it off-line. I want all my tools locally, I need LaTeX to work, I need a compiler, I need scientific visualization tools.

    I believe in free-as-in-speech software and I don't see how GoogleOS really fits into it.

  • by JakeD409 ( 740143 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @11:59AM (#30214602)
    I wouldn't use a free netbook from Google because I'm a developer. I also play games, use Photoshop, and other things that are out of the scope of web apps. However, the primary audience of Chrome OS (people who just need to do word processing, spreadsheets, email, check the internet, etc.) would probably love it. They're already used to their computer being full of ads from the spyware they don't know how to avoid, so a free computer with (theoretically) nicer ads is probably infinitely preferable to a $300+ computer that still has ads for them.
  • Attempted before (Score:5, Informative)

    by flogger ( 524072 ) <non@nonegiven> on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @12:29PM (#30215088) Journal
    This was attempted before with (Now it is just a parked domain). This was back in 1999. 10000 free Compaq computers were given away. In return people gave up personal information/demographics/hobbies/etc in return for a PC that had advertising on the screen 24/7. Source [].

    The attempt was a bust if I recall right.

    But this is 10 years later; we have come a long way in targeted advertising. If anyone can do this, it is Google.
  • Re:Not possible (Score:5, Informative)

    by B1oodAnge1 ( 1485419 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @01:45PM (#30216108)
  • Re:Not possible (Score:4, Informative)

    by Acer500 ( 846698 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @02:02PM (#30216352) Journal

    Just like there will never be $20 cell phones?

    There aren't $20 cell phones, that's the subsidized price. If you were a phone company, or someone in a position to collect a monthly fee for running these netbooks, you certainly could dump them for $20 on a shelf at Wal-Mart, provided they come with a 2 year contract for whatever you're selling...

    I'm not so sure... I bought a U$ 20 cell phone recently (the Nokia 1208), new, from the local carrier, without a contract or any fees of any kind and with 300 minutes of credit thrown in. Maybe they hope they'll make it up off prepaid phone cards, but they're not getting them off a contract.

  • by slim ( 1652 ) <john@hartnup . n et> on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @03:11PM (#30217190) Homepage

    Advertisers don't want clicks from users of what would be "welfarebooks".

    Since you imply you've worked for the search industry, I'll take your word for it. But I'm surprised.

    The poor are a lucrative market for certain products, and many successful businesses made their fortunes by taking small amounts of money from large numbers of poor people. Simple and not-unethical example: discount supermarkets.

    Yeah, pushing Lexus adverts at them isn't going to work out. Pushing cornflakes ads at them might.

  • The problem is that too many of them participate in "pay-to-click". You may have seen that sort of thing - "make money surfing the web". Clickstreams from people in that general demographic, and a few others with smilar economic profiles, can't be monetized - they aren't worth even $0.001 (a tenth of a cent).

    Sure, they'd be suckers for credit cards at 35% interest, with a front-loaded fee on the first month of $75, etc. Problem is, they wouldn't even qualify for that ... and those that would, too many would default, so the advertiser would just find it to be a huge money pit.

    Then you have the possibility of mixing those into the general click pool - which only goes to lower the overall quality of your click stream to the advertiser, who then reasonably drops the price they're willing to pay - or if it now becomes marginal, drops that whole stream, because it's too contaminated with crap.

    Clicks in and of themselves have no value. It's only because you can safely predict that in a particular batch of clicks, from a particular set of sources, for a particular product, a certain percentage will convert to actions that ultimately generate the desired response - usually involving the exchange of money at some point. There's a floor to how low you can go for any demographic before it becomes unprofitable, and halo effects (such as "increasing brand recognition") have to be discounted. This can all be calculated in real time, then automatically applied to "protect" other ad campaigns against similar conversion-poor sources.

    At under a tenth of a cent per click, the associated costs just aren't worth it - better to devote the same resources to handling a market that *has* money. After all, to generate $10 of revenue, with a click-thru ratio of 2%, shared 50/50 with the web site desplaying the ad, at $0.001 per click, you'd need a million impressions. There's bottom-feeding, then there's *bottom-feeding*. A million page views to make $10? "Well, just show more ads per page!" Too many ads lowers your click-thru rate, so at a certain point, you're going backwards - and your page becomes a wall of ads and almost no content, so you end up losing traffic.

    This is just a replay of the old "get a free pc" gimmicks from years gone by, where you had to browse the web with a browser that constantly streamed ads. It didn't work, and this won't either. It's also extremely vulnerable to the peer-to-pear web (the real "cloud computing" model) that will render centralized search engines obsolete by the end of the next decade, but that's another story.

Where there's a will, there's an Inheritance Tax.