Free PCs for all..

Not much discussion in the Blogosphere (well, I’ve not seen much) of Metronomy, a new company that is giving away umpteen million (or several hundred thousand, depending on who you believe) free new IBM PCs. Or, to be more precise, it is loaning them on a rolling three year contract. There’s a catch of course – you must agree to be exposed to one minute of adverts for every twenty minutes of computer use, and must also use your computer for not less than thirty hours per month. I don’t find either of these restrictions to be particularly challenging – it’s easy enough to use the advert time for a loo or tea break, and an hour a day is pretty low level usage for most of the people who read this site. I also predict that patches will become available very quickly to suppress the adverts.
Is this a good idea, from either a commercial or marketing point of view? In my opinion, it will certainly have an impact on the PC market, probably wiping out the bottom end low-cost and very low margin machine market. Bad news for the likes of Dixons and Comet, I’d suggest. I am also unsure about the viability of the business model itself – will enough advertising revenue be generated to make the loan of the computers (and associated transport, admin and support costs) a profitable exercise? I’m not sure, as many companies are already wary of advertising on the net, having had their fingers burned by unrealistic promises in the past. I suspect that the main beneficiaries of adverts in this context are likely to be the usual suspects – purveyors of online financial services, Amazon and their competitors, the supermarkets and possibly also e-government. I don’t see it as being any more effective than other online adverts, other than by being more closely targeted than traditional net adverts.
We shall see. Hels and I may apply for one, just to see how we get on with it. After all, we need to be a three PC family, don’t we?

One Reply to “Free PCs for all..”

  1. I found this very interesting and feel that whilst it does seem to be more in the “big brother” way of feeling in that they can now control how we use our own home devices, and will be programming our minds, its not really that bad of an idea. And as I’m reminded of my own crappy computer as it takes half an hour to load the web and cant do more than three things at a time I am inclined to ask this question, how do you get hold of these free computers? Quick, answer me before I change my mind!!lol

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