I haven’t decided if this is really cool, another milepost on the road to civilizational perdition, or just worthy of cold cost/benefit analysis weighing the price of a new IBM computer (about $1400) against the insanity inducement of having your computer screen break for a commercial every 20 minutes. In my particular case the insanity would not be worth the cost savings:
- NOBODY in the UK need ever pay for a personal computer again – from this week new IBM models will be delivered free of charge to any home that wants one.
In a move that will send shivers through the PC manufacturing and retailing sectors, US computing giant IBM is working with British start-up company Metronomy to supply a free IBM PC, which would otherwise retail for around 800 pounds, to every household in Britain.
It is anticipated that around two million of the computers will be given away over the next three years, with an initial 200,000 being shipped in the first few months of 2004.
The only catch is that users will be subjected to one minute of TV-style ads coming on to their screens every 20 minutes. If the user wishes, the ad break can be delayed by a maximum of five minutes to allow completion of another operation such as a secure online purchase of an airline ticket.
Metronomy is supported by global advertising giants Omnicom and Interpublic, who have identified a way of using the PC market to take TV advertising into the computer age.
….In order to continue to access the new PCs, users will have to install a CD each month to update the advertising content. This will enable advertisers such as Churchill to trial a variety of ads with different types of customer.
Thornhill says future free software could also include the kind of ‘softphone’ application that enables computer users to make free international telephone calls over the internet. [Scotsman.com]
I do like the creativity and flexibility the plan affords, though. For people who don’t use the computer as much as I do, or who aren’t trying to compose and edit on deadline, this could be a great deal.