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Would You Use a Free Netbook From Google?

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the google-i-opener dept.

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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Not possible (5, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214182)

As nice as it is to think that advertisements will cover everything, a single user isn't worth a $150+ netbook. Actually single user is worth a lot less for Google and other companies.

Lets say Google gets around $2 CPM on normal searches. That means a single search is worth something like $0.002 for Google. It's going to take lots of searches and ad clicks from every user to even cover the costs of the netbook. And the same users would be doing those searches and ad clicks anyway, so it serves no purpose.

Another thing is that search result advertisements and even ads on gmail are worth more because they can be really targeted. But what do you advertise on a spreadsheet app? Users aren't looking for any info or such - they're working on their spreadsheet.

It's just out of the question that a single user would be worth $150 for Google.

Re:Not possible (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30214204)

Yeah, sure. It would be great to store my music on.

Re:Not possible (2)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214554)

It would also be a good place to store a Linux distribution...of course that might not display the ads which is why I highly doubt that Google will do it. It would be far too easy to strip out the Google OS and install your own.

Re:Not possible (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30214822)

Had a lot of success putting Linux on a DVR or an XBox lately? Chromium is already signed, so there's no reason they can't bake it in further. Don't assume success in hacking something that can be demonstrably locked down.

Re:Not possible (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214610)

It'll have minimal storage, maybe just a small SSD to hold connection settings and updates.

Re:Not possible (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214804)

The test hardware they've been showing off apparently has a 32 GB SSD, and also accepts SD card storage. It isn't mammoth, but you can keep cached versions (via Google Gears) of all your data on your SSD just the same.

Re:Not possible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30214278)

If it had free 3g, ala kindle, I'd plop down even $200 for one in a heartbeat. If it only had WiFi... sure, if it were free. I could easily find a use for it, but it wouldn't be nearly as useful.

Re:Not possible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30214308)

Where are you getting the $150 number from? A minimalistic, barebones computer capable of running a browser would cost a lot less than that, wouldn't it?

Re:Not possible (2, Insightful)

Glyn Moody (946055) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214342)

Yes, but what about a $20 netbook? That's the issue: when hardware costs fall to the point that the numbers work, what happens then?

Re:Not possible (3, Insightful)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214512)

Then you start to see netbooks in those big centre aisle bins at WalMart under a sign that says "Price Drop! $24.87", and consumers react accordingly when they see service providers offering a similar netbook for free.

Re:Not possible (2, Interesting)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214350)

As nice as it is to think that advertisements will cover everything, a single user isn't worth a $150+ netbook. Actually single user is worth a lot less for Google and other companies.

I agree with this, although I think the hardware could be *much* cheaper than $150. Say $50, in time. But still advertising couldn't cover 100% of it.

But what do you advertise on a spreadsheet app? Users aren't looking for any info or such - they're working on their spreadsheet.

I have a Google Docs spreadsheet right here entitled "Warwick office Christmas Lunch 2009".

Along with the column headings, there's a good chance Google's systems could guess it's a good place to advertise restaurants and pubs near Warwick.

How many spreadsheets contain the name of a product, with the price alongside it? That's a signal to advertise that product.

Re:Not possible (3, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214778)

Advertising on the netbook itself could not cover it, perhaps, but remember what Google are trying to do here is break on the desktop; if they make a loss getting their netbooks into peoples homes (and their lives) then they are getting more desktop users by default (because if you are keeping your documents on google docs, then you will still use it when you boot a windows machine). They can make the numbers work if they are banking on increasing their userbase elsewhere.

If Google can get a large enough userbase on their cloud applications to break the MS Office monopoly, then suddenly the reason 95% of the worlds desktop computers run Windows evaporates.

I myself don't like cloud computing for office work - I tend to use openoffice. This will still work out well for users like me though; Without an MS monopoly people will become more used to working between different office packages.

Re:Not possible (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30214402)

I'd never use such an adware computer. My attention is worth far more than $150, more like 150$ AN HOUR.

And I haven't even said anything about privacy yet.

Re:Not possible (5, Funny)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214542)

How much will it cost to get you to respond to this thread again? I'll take up a collection.

Re:Not possible (2, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214406)

I don't think it has to be a $150 netbook. If all you are doing is regular internet surfing sans flash, an OLPC level book should be fine, and that was designed to be $100 years ago (although not quite reaching that level).

The problem with free is that people won't value it enough to take care of it. They'll just trash it and move onto the next thing. But a $50 or $100 netbook would be huge for customers. Anything else on that level is usually a crappy toy.

And just like Microsoft counts on people growing up on their OS, google could do the same here. Of course, I don't know if such a netbook will be worth it in the end in America, but definitely in third world countries.

Re:Not possible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30214424)

TripMaster Monkey, why do you pretend that you know better than Google if they can afford this or not?

Unlike them, you're just MAKING UP NUMBERS.

Re:Not possible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30214520)

TripMaster Monkey, why do you pretend that you know better than Google if they can afford this or not?

Unlike them, you're just MAKING UP NUMBERS.

TMM was more refined in English and grammar than sopssa.

Re:Not possible (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214432)

As nice as it is to think that advertisements will cover everything, a single user isn't worth a $150+ netbook.

Who said the netbook cost $150? I would guess that the bulk purchases and low requirements could allow them to cut that down to sub $40 within four or five years. And even if the netbooks had decent hardware, look at the number of servers Google runs to provide free and paid services ... now what if you had idle processes on netbooks using up spare Atom (or whatever is out there) CPU time? Think about it, it could be the user footing part of your server energy bill.

Another thing is that search result advertisements and even ads on gmail are worth more because they can be really targeted. But what do you advertise on a spreadsheet app? Users aren't looking for any info or such - they're working on their spreadsheet.

Well, your logic works both ways. Why would I want to be bothered with ads when I'm busy working on my e-mail? And the data in a spreadsheet says a lot, if their doing their finances, you offer them financial products. Numbers and abbreviations give away a lot. If they are using scientific notation, you give them scientific product ads. It's also a single piece of Google's offerings. Docs and gmail are much more useful to me.

It's just out of the question that a single user would be worth $150 for Google.

You didn't list a lot of innovative ideas for their strategy to mitigate hardware cost and you also ignore the rapidly falling costs of hardware that the OLPC tried to take advantage of. I'm confident that if they embark on this endeavor, it will be well thought out and phased. I think you underestimate your worth in the eyes of Google and what it means to have you as a resource--both in purchasing power and generating content as a contributor.

Re:Not possible (3, Insightful)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214590)

Who said the netbook cost $150? I would guess that the bulk purchases and low requirements could allow them to cut that down to sub $40 within four or five years. And even if the netbooks had decent hardware, look at the number of servers Google runs to provide free and paid services ... now what if you had idle processes on netbooks using up spare Atom (or whatever is out there) CPU time? Think about it, it could be the user footing part of your server energy bill.

+1 insightful

That might actually be what this is all about... getting users to pay for the electricity to run a grid. Especially if the netbook doesn't end up being free but just low enough to cover (most of) the cost of making it.

Re:Not possible (5, Funny)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214474)

It's just out of the question that a single user would be worth $150 for Google.

Man, it's a good thing that Google has you to make tough judgements like that for them. Where would they be without you?

Re:Not possible (1)

getNewNickName (980625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214586)

I'm still waiting for my free gPhone. What happened to those rumors?

Re:Not possible (2, Interesting)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214616)

Well, the whole thing is speculation anyways, so it really doesn't matter.

    Plenty of companies sell or give away loss leaders. *IF* they did it, it could be used to get their product to market. They may give away the free version, with an upgrade path to a better version. They may give away the free version with pay features such as requiring a 2 year 3G contract, or pay to use the Google cloud services. Really, even without the advertising, it would be worth the money if they charged $10/mo for using their storage. The prices mentioned were retail prices. Just because something costs $200 in the store doesn't mean it costs the manufacturer $200. Usually it costs an awful lot less.

    Even the folks saying that they'd install whatever alternative OS on it, that would still be a minority, and they would make their money on the majority of the users.

    I doubt we'll see the Google branded free netbook anytime soon, but hey, it could happen. Or folks will continue to speculate about it. :)

Re:Not possible (2, Insightful)

sorton9999 (958384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214620)

Let's say the hardware DOES cost $150. I think over the lifetime of the hardware they can more than recoup the cost. I think it's in the realm of possibility to get $10 add revenue per month per user. That includes search revenue and adds splashed all over everything. They get their money back after 15 months. Let's say the average lifetime of the hardware is 2 years, they make money after a while. Of course, they make money sooner as the hardware gets cheaper.

yes it is (1)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214624)

They're using Adsense advertising in the apps and in other places. Back when I had my website and hosted Google ads, I got between $3-$4 per ad click. Now, I have to wonder if the terms will stay the same for ads on these devices or if showing an ad on one's desktop or app would be considered a "click". That's something to look for in the fine print - for the advertisers. Anyway, if Google was paying my 3-4 dollars, they were getting at least 1-2 dollars in profit,, meaning they were charging the advertiser at least $5 a click. 30 clicks and TADA! break even?

Just think how many people will intentionally or inadvertently click on ads because they're placed "strategically".

Re:Not possible (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214718)

I disagree. Google's clearly making money as it is, so what makes you think they wouldn't make even more from the info they can glean from a free netbook? It'd cost them minimal amounts to host applications which are already hosted.

It also ties in wonderfully to android, given that you could have a laptop that could potentially use cellular for data.

The bigger issue is the OS is very lackluster at the moment and there are issues trying to get more serious applications/work done via a cheap netbook of some variety, especially on google's OS. However, would it work for the purposes shown on the preview? Absolutely. Word processing, email, spreadsheets, etc? Easily.

Re:Not possible (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214776)

Your $150 price point is interesting.

AT&T subsidized $400 of my iPhone for signing a two-year contract with data plan.

Let's say that Google offers up $50 of the netbook cost to get their OS in people's hands, and to get search and advertising revenue. Even if they lose a little money, they're buying market share. AT&T would only need to subsidize $100 of the netbook to get it to me for free. AT&T and Verizon are already doing deals where they will subsidize $100 of a netbook if you sign up for an associated data plan for it.

Re:Not possible (1)

Spud Stud (739387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214792)

Think NASCAR. Sure, it might not be worth it to Google alone, but imagine a laptop "sponsored" by 15-20 vendors, each with their logo emblazoned on the case or the home screen.

THIS IS FOR NIGGERS AND SPICS ESPECIALLY (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30214212)

The law should require that anyone who receives welfare or food stamps for any length of time should undergo mandatory permanent surgical sterilization, because if there's anything ghetto rats are good at doing it's breeding. These are people who can't figure out that when you're in the ghetto and can barely scrape by and can't even do that without being a burden to society, you should NOT be having children. That make this a great idea. WHO'S WITH ME?!

I Just Installed a Google Camera in my Bedroom (1, Funny)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214228)

They asked me to, and I did it! Why wouldn't I? They're Google, after all, and they can Do No Evil. Besides, it was shiny, and open source...

Re:I Just Installed a Google Camera in my Bedroom (1)

ctrl-alt-canc (977108) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214622)

Please can you share with us the url ?

A free _netbook_? (2, Informative)

E-Sabbath (42104) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:A free _netbook_? (-1, Flamebait)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214298)

It'd be a walking about sort of tool.

I can fix that for you if you let me take out one letter and an apostrophe. What'd'ya say?

Re:A free _netbook_? (1)

amplt1337 (707922) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214356)

It'd be a walking about sort of tool.

I can fix that for you if you let me take out one letter and an apostrophe. What'd'ya say?

"It be a walking about sort of tool?"

I'd like to know what you mean.

an apostrophe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30214380)

Too easy.

Re:A free _netbook_? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30214526)

I believe that the correct parse of his statement is:

It would be a walking about sort of tool.

The "'d" after it can parse to "it would" perfectly legally. He is saying that he would use it as a computer that he could walk around with while using. Seems pretty obvious to me.

Re:A free _netbook_? (1)

nicholasjay (921044) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214330)

Yeah, me too. I have a netbook that I only take on vacation with me or use when my other computers are taken. No personal data is stored on it, so I wouldn't mind a free one from Google.

Re:A free _netbook_? (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214714)

It would be a freaking toy. You'd end up using your main computer because at that price, the darn thing is almost disposable.

And if it had a cell modem in it, it would end up costing you a lot more than free, $150/whatever.

Plastic tinker-toy tools are for those that just play around. Buying something with quality helps-- despite the fact that today's quad-core notebook has a half-life of only three years if we're lucky.

Much like the I-opener (2, Interesting)

asicsolutions (1481269) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214260)

Someone will figure out how to hack it and use it for whatever you want.

Sign me up

Re:Much like the I-opener (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214310)

Or the :CueCat

Re:Much like the I-opener (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214374)

I don't know, I think people might do something more with a netbook than just sticking it on a shelf somewhere.

Re:Much like the I-opener (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214592)

Well, my point is that people felt motivated to hack a mostly useless piece of free hardware like a barcode reader and make something moderately useful out of it.

Now, take something which is more powerful and potentially a lot more useful, like a netbook. People are going to be a lot more motivated to look for ways to hack that hardware into running other software.

No I won't (3, Informative)

godrik (1287354) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:No I won't (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30214508)

Who says it wont work without a network, cloud applications can be cashed you know, they will continue working without a network connection, as long as you have used them once.

Also Google has already demonstrated that cloud applications can store data locally, so you can "store files on my computer and use it on the plane, and you will be able to do it off-line.".
Latex can work as a cloud application, as can compilers and other "scientific visualization tools", in fact any kind of application can! Because applications can be much more massive than current applications, their capabilities will be greater than current similar applications too.

"I believe in free-as-in-speech software and I don't see how GoogleOS really fits into it." maybe you cant, but I can!

Re:No I won't (1)

ProppaT (557551) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214534)

You realize that this machine is intended for browsing the internet and updating your blog on the couch or at *bucks, not replacing your normal computer, right? No one is expecting anyone to get work done on this thing...it'd be too small to be a productive work computer to begin with...but it'd be good enough for social networking, instant messaging, e-mail, etc.

You can't have it both ways. You want total control over all your software on a free machine? That's never going to happen. I suspect a tool like this would be perfect for older people who just want to e-mail their kids/grandkids and check their bank account and perfect for younger people who don't have the money for a netbook or laptop but want a portable internet device. Not to mention college students who want something small and portable for taking notes in class. There really is a lot of potential to the device, although I don't see anyone getting it for free. Maybe $50, but free is a stretch.

Count me in (4, Insightful)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214692)

I won't use a machine which is useless without network.

I just about can't use a machine without using a network. My favorite game is an MMORPG, which is useless without a network. Even other games, I usually have a browser window open for reference. My e-mail is accessed via a web client. (Even with a local client, all you could do is compose or read, not send or receive.) I do web development, which is on a remote web host. When I'm developing things locally in Visual Studio, I'm constantly using online references and documentation. I suppose I could in theory write a letter or something, but to be honest, I don't write letters to people any more. I even require the Internet to do something as simple as watch television these days. (Broadcast tv? Forget it, I use Hulu.)

If you don't use the Internet as much as I do, more power to you. But I really think that going forward, offline computer use is going to be the exception, not the rule. I think saying what you said will eventually sound like, "I won't use a telephone that is useless without a wireless connectivity." Like the cell network, the Internet is so pervasive today that it's weird to run across an application that doesn't use it in some capacity.

Oh, and by the way, Chromium is released under the BSD license [google.com] , which is free-as-in-speech. I don't know what the license terms will be if such a hypothetical netbook were released, but at least the OS running on it would be open source. From a freedom-as-in-Stallman viewpoint, it may not be perfect, but it is orders of magnitude better than what is currently running on most netbooks out there. Evil is not the opposite of perfect.

Re:No I won't (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214726)

OF course you wont, and neither will any of the other .005% users who need a computer to work that way.

GoogleOS fits into it because free-as-in-speech software is much bigger then you.

Re:No I won't (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214824)

Why do LaTeX, a compiler, and scientific visualization tools (R?) need to be run locally? I never had a problem running everything in an SSH (-X as needed) session. Yes there's an issue if you can't connect to the network, but if Google can work things out with cell providers and airlines (and I don't see why they couldn't) there would be very few dead zones.

As for free-as-in-speech software, aren't Android and Chrome OS both open source?

What about throwaways? (1)

winthrop (314632) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214270)

If google offered completely free netbooks, people would use them as disposable, costing google tons of money. Even subsidized hardware like game consoles relies on the fact that the consumer is putting some investment in, so they'll probably increase their investment over time by buying games, and not just throw it out and get a new one every month because they feel like it.

Would you accept a free Google netbook? (5, Funny)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214286)

Sure, as long as it wasn't too difficult to wipe it and install Debian.

Re:Would you accept a free Google netbook? (1)

cavok (154569) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214384)

no, only Gnewsense is allowed

Re:Would you accept a free Google netbook? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30214762)

According to a previous story it would probably not have a hard drive, so that could be difficult

Re:Would you accept a free Google netbook? (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214768)

I installed Sid on a USB stick just last week.

Re:Would you accept a free Google netbook? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214798)

I just wanted to ask: Does it run Linux?

Pay (2, Interesting)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214288)

I would pay to not see the ads. I would also pay to retain control over the device (assuming the give-away would be a type of lease).

But the privacy arguments are an issue whether or not you buy the device. If your apps are on the web, they're on someone's servers, whether you paid for the client or not.

Re:Pay (1)

StreetStealth (980200) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214844)

Honestly, this is a parallel direction I'd love to see Google expand into. They have great services, but I just don't really like ads that much -- even ads as subtle as Google's. I'd use GMail more if I could pay a reasonable annual fee to skip the ads and have a nice, clean web UI.

I know Google offers an enterprise solution to this effect, but I've never seen a consumer solution marketed.

Duhhh (4, Insightful)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214290)

I'd take several dozen, probably hundreds... hardware can't be given away. I think.... I'd wallpaper my house with monitors. I'm sure I could make a nice server/web ap to run all the buggers even if I couldn't take the hardware apart.

Basically, the idea is impossible and stupid.

No catch (1)

vvaduva (859950) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214292)

Yes, absolutely...there is never a catch to free stuff being handed out by large corporations!! Sign me up!

Certainly! (1)

PHPNerd (1039992) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214300)

I, for one, welcome our new Google overlords.

Google changing mobile computing? (1)

Azureflare (645778) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214306)

This strategy might work if Google really is serious about changing mobile computing. They have the money to fund something like this (maybe even subsidizing netbooks would work). I would certainly accept a netbook with advertising if it was free, because, hell, it's free!

Even if it was subisidized at say $50, I would be willing to buy it. Any more then that and I would have to pass.

I watched the demo of Chrome OS that was posted on youtube, and from the presentation they really think Chrome OS will change the "paradigm" of computing. If they actually fund it by giving people free netbooks with chrome os installed, well, that's going to make it a LOT easier to change how we think of computing!

Unrelated note: I really find the browser-OS model fascinating. In a way, the presenter was correct: we really do most of our computing activities online (especially when mobile), and if the internet isnt there it's kind of pointless. I think the real issue will be offline application access, which hopefully will be solved by the upcoming HTML 5 Offline capabilities. All in all this is definitely going to be interesting to watch in the next year, but I'm not going to really obsess about it until Google comes out with a final product *snicker*.

"Final product" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30214738)

You mean after the Beta?

You mean the year of the linux desktop or when Duke Nukem Forever is released?

Yes, I would. (1)

methano (519830) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214314)

And I'll say it again. Yes, I would.

Meanwhile: Apple Smiles ... (3, Insightful)

foobsr (693224) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214318)

... having a patent on forced advertising [slashdot.org] .

Myself, I would not want such crap.

CC.

No Internet=useless computer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30214324)

Doesn't sound like a useful machine to me.

Not for daily use, but maybe while traveling (3, Interesting)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214326)

I can see hotels, conference centers, and the like providing computers "brought to you by Google" or for that matter any advertising partner.

Of course, to be a winner with businesses they would have to allow VPNs to work and would have to guarentee there were no keyloggers or other security issues with the device. That should be easy enough to promise if the device boots over the network from an authenticated and trusted source and the machine were epoxy-sealed to prevent tampering.

Re:Not for daily use, but maybe while traveling (1)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214746)

a lot of business hotels offer printing as well, so there would have to be a way to customize the OS to be able to print on the local printer

So... (3, Insightful)

Zapotek (1032314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214328)

I'm guessing AdBlock and/or NoScript are out of the question, huh?

Yes, I would (1)

V50 (248015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214334)

I would easily take a free netbook if it were offered. I'd mess around with it, if it was useful, I'd continue using it, if not, it would go in the big pile of laptops I've replaced but haven't gotten rid of yet. (Going back to a PowerBook 540c from 1994, IIRC).

However, I can't see the advertising or whatever actually making up for it, especially considering that a fair number of them wouldn't end up being used at all, and many would end up being used for strange purposes.

The last time I remember a company giving large amounts of free hardware away, to make it up with advertising, was the CueCat disaster. OTOH, the CueCat was pretty useless to begin with, and their company was based only on that junk, IIRC. Even if such an idea tanks, I'm sure google could eat a few billion in losses. Still, I really doubt such a thing will happen. Free netbooks just sound too good to be true.

if it comes (1, Funny)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214358)

with a free CueCat [wikipedia.org] , sure!

The short answer is... (5, Interesting)

Dartz-IRL (1640117) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214362)

No..

Aside from Gmail, (which I access with Thunderbird) I try not to use too many google services. . I'm also mindful of that recent Apple patent about ad's which can physically block the machine, forcing the user to interact with them.

There's also a personal freedom/privacy issue.

I use Linux because it's 'mine' as such. I can pretty do what I want with it (compared to traditional software licenses anyway). I'm not quite sure how to word this in a rational .... but something about Google providing me a free laptop, in exchange for being allowed to target-advertise me.... it's deeply unsettling. I don't like being followed.

Of course, I'm just a tinfoil hat moron, but well.... my computer is my castle, thick stone walls around my data safeguarding my privacy against casual observers.
I don't want transparent walls of glass showing my world to someone else.... even it it was free.

It feels very Big brother-ish.

Re:The short answer is... (1, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214802)

Your ego is much to big.

No one need to follow you, and no one out side your circle of family gives damn about you.

"It feels very Big brother-ish."
IF ti were BIg Brother then you would be forced to take it, it would watch everything you do all that time, work to keep you ignorant.

Google and the internet are the anti-thesis to Big Brother. So are a populace with cameras.
LEt me know when only a large body control all information, can't be tracked, and controls all cameras, and actively hunts down people who innovate as a matter of course and policy.

Contrary to what you are thinking right now, Google does not control in information, and if they did three are other alternative to that same information.

Re:The short answer is... (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214808)

So you get one of these, use it just for Gmail, and block Google from even being accessed on your main machine(s). What the hell, it's free. :)

I don't know if it would be a profitable proposition for Google, but I'd get one of these little buggers in a second. I'd do my Gmail, my Google Earth, my Google Voice, my Facebook, etc on it. Then I'd have a REAL machine that I'd do my finances and other sensitive stuff on.

No Thanks (2, Interesting)

OrangeMonkey11 (1553753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214370)

My privacy comes with a higher price tag then just some POS hardware.

I rather have my own hardware and software that does not call home every second I'm on it and throwing ads in my face constantly.

Re:No Thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30214500)

My privacy comes with a higher price tag then just some POS hardware.

A tad late, there - your privacy has already been bought and sold long ago, no matter what computer you run and what OS is installed on it.

please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30214388)

are the goods and services offered by google, really more valuable than the computer they are offered on?

No Way (1)

rainmaestro (996549) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214430)

A $200 netbook is not worth losing the privacy. If I can't run a 7-pass wipe algorithm over my data, I don't want to use it.

Excuse me? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30214448)

emphasis on lean code means that a low-cost processor could be used

I must've missed a meeting. Emphasis on lean code? A 1.6GHz netbook CPU is considered bottom of the barrel performance-wise these days. That's 1600MHz. For reading email and web pages. Where is this lean code that you're talking about? How dare you talk about lean code on SLASHDOT, which uses so much scripting that it is slow as molasses on even moderately fast CPUs?

Net-Apps (1)

eepok (545733) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214450)

Net Apps are useful in a pinch, but I don't think anyone here believes they can offer the speed and versatility of a full blow spreadsheet or word processor (like Word/Excel or Open Office). They just won't put enough effort into development to make it a realistic substitute... on NETBOOK machinery. Then there's the issue of not having an internet connection, but needing to work or wanting to read something.

Remember the 90's (3, Insightful)

Ceiynt (993620) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214452)

When companies would hand out free computers to anyone who asked, but they were so ad laden they were unusable? Or stopped whatever it was you were doing to play some sort of video for 30 seconds? Nothing is free.

Will they support it? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30214468)

If so, then yes yes, oh $diety yes! And the first thing I'll do is give it to my parents with a giant sticker on it that says "For support call 1-800-googlez"

Re:Will they support it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30214634)

Parents response: "How do I call a number with letters?"

from an ignoramus on all things Chrome OS (1)

ScottyB (13347) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214488)

Here I've just gotten my head around Android, and now there's Chrome OS. Will someone please explain, why? Why would anyone bother with Chrome OS? I mean, weren't we just talking about a netbook with Android?

I get Android. It's the open-source, linux-type competitor to Windows Mobile and iPhone OS, being helped by Google's name and stature in the mobile market.

But Chrome OS? I understand netbooks will run slightly faster with linux or some lightweight variant than with Windows XP, but really, the hardware's the limitation here, not the OS. Taking a 4-cylinder Honda Civic and reducing the weight may give you better gas mileage and a slightly higher top speed, but we're not talking much, and certainly not enough to make me at least (and I like linux!) switch to linux on my Lenovo netbook. It's a netbook. It surfs the web. Learning a new OS for a netbook just doesn't have much appeal when my main system is still running Windows.

No thanks. (2, Insightful)

Old97 (1341297) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214490)

I've already removed Google software from my Mac & PC. No, I don't want to tether to the Google cloud or any cloud and give up my privacy or freedom. At what point will companies like Google be compelled to enforce government mandates and restrictions? (Think China today. The U.S. will start with DMCA and Europe will restrict whatever they think is "offensive" to others.)

I Would (1)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214496)

I doubt they'll ever give away a free computer as hypothesized but, if they did, I'd get one. Now, I'm Canadian so I don't have the same cultural distrust of Big Brother that most Americans have (not a knock - just an honest observation - it is a cultural difference between our two countries) so I'm sure that plays a big part of it but, to me, I'm willing to "pay" for a computer by giving Google some valuable information that they can use to better advertise to me. That is, after all, what they would be "buying" by giving me a netbook - they're buying information so that they can better appeal to me as a consumer of advertising. They are making their advertising work better. I'm ok with that. Sure, they may also find out little quirks about me that I'd rather they not discover. Yes, it opens up a plethora of privacy debates well-worth having. Yes, I know all of that. To me, however, it's worth it. I have nothing to hide from Google so I'm willing to give them what they're asking for if they're willing to give me something in return that I desire.

Like the Minitel (1)

frednofr (854428) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214544)

This would be like the Minitel, except for the part where it's funded by advertising instead of billing its usage.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minitel [wikipedia.org]

Of course (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214552)

If it is free I'd take it.

And then install a Linux distro on it + adblock plus, noscript, ....

No Way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30214558)

Lets see... all my personal data stored on some host somewhere outside of my control, thanks but no, if google really wanted to be fruitful and compete in this market space of clouds and netbooks, they would allow for you to have a choice, say to store your data in your own cloud environment, or theirs, or other service. From a personal aspect I see the potential usefulness for convenience but privacy concerns are abundant when I have no other method but to store my data on someone elses server outside my control. If it were to enable me to use other services, ie.. my own cloud storage, then potentially so, then we also have the issue of storage size they'll provide. Also note, there doesn't appear to be a method for offline document / email viewing. This OS is always on / always connected or it plainly doesn't function. If Google really wants to play in this space they need to allow for more flexibility such as offline disconnected use, synchronizing data when reconnected, and other "services connectivity" like my own hosted cloud environment running like or similar capable apps. Until google releases a something more rounded and useful it appears to many more technical people as just a "hobbyist" or "not ready for prime time" OS, with limited functionality at that. Google is a giant, yes, but they need to get REAL... in the meantime ill stick with Ubuntu Netbook remix. At least that allows me choices of local apps, local storage, disconnected use, and synchronization with my own data center. We wount even begin to discuss the capabilities that are seriously lacking for a corporate world.

Next google app.... (1)

digitalPhant0m (1424687) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214600)

Google is also announcing several new products, in-line with their ideal of total homogony and conformity: 'Google Brainwash', leading up to the beta release of 'Google Existence'.

Thanks Google, I was having a rough time thinking for myself, and making my own desicion's.

In other related news, Microsoft, after a 25 year streak as the #1 corporation hell bent on world domination, has just been usurped.

I wouldn't, but not for privacy concerns (2, Informative)

JakeD409 (740143) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:I wouldn't, but not for privacy concerns (1)

groovelator (994174) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214834)

Call me horribly naive, but what does it really matter if Google knows something or even loads about my online life? It'll eventually know something about billions of people. I'm sure I'm not that interesting.

Interesting Historical Perspective (3, Interesting)

Like2Byte (542992) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214648)

The good gents at IBM didn't see the value in the "Operating System" Microsoft was selling them.

The good gents at Microsoft didn't see the value in monitoring what their users' daily activity on their respective OS was.

I wonder what the good gents at Google are ignoring today that will be a gold mine tomorrow.

---

On another note: I'm very surprised that people are all that interested in what is, essentially, a SpyOS. Forget tracking cookies - this OS is going to be tracking people's behavior 24 hours a day.

Not to provide any ideas into advanced Spywware under the guise of "free useful PC" but imagine if there is a GPS in the netbook that is able to track the users' movements. Traffic patterns, of the individual, could be analyzed and combined with other users and applicable advertising will show up for 'popular' products both in on-line advertising and roadside billboards.

I don't want to get too far off topic so I'll ask this question: When did we turn the corner of being Anti-Spyware to being Pro-Spyware?

Yes, and root and reflash it (1)

pmontra (738736) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214654)

Otherwise I won't touch it. I don't like being spied over so easily.

why would I accept a netbook? (1)

Tom (822) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214706)

Why would I want a netbook, free or not? You have to have demand first before you think of price, and even at price 0, demand is not infinite (you've got to carry the thing home, find a place to stash it, etc. - there are costs involved in addition to the price).

So no. Even for free, I wouldn't have a use for it. The whole netbook thing is pointless anyways and will soon blow over.

ideal for my 2 year old (4, Interesting)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214730)

i have already started teaching my son who is 2 and a few months about computers. found a few free games like Thomas the Train that he likes. and for reading i'll open up Google and type in Dora in the search box and spell it out for him letter by letter. he already knows most of the letters of the alphabet, can count to 12 with help, knows a bunch of basic shapes and colors. time to teach him to read since most of the good NYC schools expect a child to read and write by 1st grade. at least that's what i'm told by parents with kids that old. the good schools in the NYC suburbs are the same way.

a free or ultra low cost Google netbook is perfect for this. my son likes to bang on the keyboard so if it breaks i just go get another one. nothing to break software-wise.

a few months of playing with one of these junky useless Chrome OS gizmos and he will be ready for a real computer. i'm thinking a Mac just because he can learn some UNIX on it and it's usable unlike most of the linux distro's i've tried. I do think Ubuntu sucks as a home PC

i've played with the Chrome OS vmware image floating around the internet and i don't think it has any value at all for a normal person or any kind of computer user i've ever met

Enjoy the free netbook kid! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30214734)

Tell us where the disk is.

Would it have ssh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30214764)

I could use it as a smart terminal.

I spend a lot of time SSHing to my work desktop anyway. So, ssh, use my existing apps, ignore Google's stuff.

I think it's a great idea. (2, Insightful)

tmosley (996283) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214774)

I don't think they would be able to give them away for free, though. As someone else mentioned, people would take advantage of that, and wallpaper their rooms with monitors and such. What I would do is charge the person who wanted one COST or something less than cost, and let your profits come from the advertising as mentioned. If the cost to make one of these things is ten or twenty dollars, as speculated in the article, it would probably work quite well. I'd pay ten or twenty bucks for a Google netbook. Hell, if it provided free internet access, I'd pay a few hundred, a la Kindle. I think most people in the developed world would do the same. That is, assuming it remained open and unhobbled.

response to Chromium has been rather lukewarm (1)

viralMeme (1461143) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214786)

"It's the morning after the big Chrome OS event .. now that the news is out, has Chrome OS lost its shine?"

Chromium OS [readwriteweb.com] has been out one whole day and already you can tell it's reception is lukewarm. Maybe you should be doing magic future prediction acts on television, like Derren Brown [davidnaylor.co.uk] predicting what the lottery results are going to be.

You forget who you're talking to (5, Insightful)

Tarlus (1000874) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214820)

Give us a free netbook at the cost of seeing ads? You're forgetting one thing: Chrome OS is Linux at its heart, and we're a bunch of Linux geeks. We'd have those ads hacked out of it faster than you could say "/etc/hosts.deny".

I wouldn't. . . not yet (1)

bjd145 (99489) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214852)

I wouldn't be then again after playing around with Chromium OS for the past couple of days, I've found it very limiting. And I'm not talking about PhotoShop or stuff like that. My reasons are

1. I have TBs of data. Only about 10% of it is in the cloud so most of my data would be unavailable to me. Even if I could nfs mount a volume what I am going to use to view my images and videos? A browser? Weak in my opinion.
2. I have a netbook right now and one of the best uses for it is Skype video. Right now I don't see anything in the plans to support something like this.
3. Another use that I have for my netbook is as a eBook reader. Will Amazon or B&N release readers for this platform?

One thing that I wonder is if Google will release a port of Adobe Aire. Another thing that I miss in Chrome OS are the Twitter and Remember the Milke aire apps that have the data in the cloud but have functionality way beyond what a web page can do (even with HTML5)

Imagine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30214854)

A BeoWulf Cluster of those!!

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