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Ads To Offset Cost of Unlocked Google Phone?

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the fine-with-me dept.

Cellphones 161

CWmike writes "Google isn't talking publicly about reported plans to sell a powerful Android-based smartphone called the Nexus One directly to consumers next year, but the idea is already raising eyebrows with analysts. The chief concern is that selling an unlocked phone directly to consumers, probably online, could be twice as expensive as buying one through a carrier. The unlocked approach has largely failed in the US, with the world's biggest phone manufacturer, Nokia, doing poorly with the concept. Nokia recently announced that its two direct-sales stores in Chicago and New York will close early next year, while online sales of unlocked devices will continue. Conceivably, Google could offer its phone at a price comparable to a subsidized phone from a carrier — as long as customers agree to receive mobile ads on the devices. Since advertising is central to Google's revenue model, that approach might make some sense, analysts said. 'Google doesn't want to be in the phone business or the mobile carrier business, so this must be about something else, and that's the advertising business, since Google is in the business of selling ads,' said Kevin Burden, an analyst at ABI Research. In one mobile advertising model being tested in Germany, users agree to receive a certain number of ads on their phones to reduce their monthly cellular and texting rates, although reducing the up-front cost of the actual device is relatively novel. Reinforcing the idea of using mobile advertising with direct sales of unlocked phones, Google bought AdMob in November."

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No No No No!!!! (2, Insightful)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447566)


I am sick of everything trying to sell me things all the fucking time. STOP!

Re:No No No No!!!! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30447594)

I am sick of everything trying to sell me things all the fucking time. STOP!

I understand and I sympathize with you. That's why I'm here to offer you an amazing ad blocking technology for the low low price of $19.95.

Re:No No No No!!!! (5, Funny)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447616)

Ads got you down? Need some refreshment? Try Brawndo! The Thirst Mutilator!

Re:No No No No!!!! (1)

FSWKU (551325) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447664)

"BrawndoBlock: The Ad Mutilator! Fortified with electrolytes! It's got what phones crave!"

Re:No No No No!!!! (0)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448302)

Brawndo, proud sponsor of the new E! reality series "Ow, My Balls!"

Re:No No No No!!!! (1)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447634)

You're in a minority group, mostly consisting of /.ers
The market has spoken, and it wants maximum fr33 st00f pl0x, subsidised by wasting time viewing ads.

Re:No No No No!!!! (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448256)

then don't buy it.
Pretty simple, eh?

I have a better idea (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447602)

I'll just continue to buy locked phones, and then drop 10 or 20 whole dollars to get them unlocked at the local electronics mall.

Re:I have a better idea (1)

Foxxxy (217437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447794)

I choose to pay $5 and unlock it from the comfort of my home. I picked my last phone up from a carrier with no contracts for $50 more than the carriers with contacts, then paid $5 to get it unlocked, and signed up at the more expensive carrier on a month-month service.

I hate locked in contacts, but also hate ads.

Re:I have a better idea (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448382)

I've done the same with Pre-paid phones. I've taken several of those and activated them on month-to-month networks. If you just need something to makes calls on you can be sure you can find something for $50 with no contracts involved.

Back to the Google phone though, I just don't see this flying. The reality is no carriers give you any discount at all for bringing an unlocked phone and not taking a subsidized one. You're paying for a phone at all times regardless. Why would I take a Google phone that's subdized by ads when I'm still going to be paying for the subsidy on a non-ad supported phone on my monthly bill? All you're really getting is the ability to leave the service whenever you want. As someone who's kept the same carrier for the last 7 years and has no desire to switch, I can't say I'm willing to deal with ads for the convenience. If Verizon ever pisses me off too bad I'll just wait until my contract is out before I switch - no big deal.

Re:I have a better idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448554)

The reality is no carriers give you any discount at all for bringing an unlocked phone and not taking a subsidized one.

I have the sneaking suspicion that T-Mobile, at least for this phone in particular, is about to change that. No fucking way Google hasn't taken this into consideration and negotiated something.

Re:I have a better idea (1)

geniusj (140174) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448780)

http://www.t-mobile.com/shop/plans/Cell-Phone-Plans-Overview.aspx?WT.z_unav=mst_shop_plans [t-mobile.com]

These plans have been in effect for at least a month now.

Re:I have a better idea (1)

Zantac69 (1331461) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449134)

The thing that chaps my ass here is the $10 discount and I am not locked into a contract. Yippie-fuckin-do. Cut me a $30 discount since I am not buying your shitty hardware that you guys fucked around with.

I have had unlocked phones since I moved to Europe a few years ago, and hate the fact that I am stuck with the jackasses at AT&T and T-Mobile. Dont even talk about Sprint or Verizon because they dont have SIM cards to swap around.

As much as I cringe saying this, I almost wish the FCC would punch AT&T and T-Mobile in the seed - make them use the same fucking frequencies 800/850/1800/1900 would work for me - and fucking be over it.

Re:I have a better idea (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449396)

That $10/month discount is $240 over a 2-year contract (which is what most new equipment contracts require). Whiners chap my ass.

Re:I have a better idea (1)

geniusj (140174) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448752)

t-mobile plans are $10 less per month if you don't take a carrier phone subsidy.

Even better Idea (4, Interesting)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448066)

Presumably Google will implement something like Apple originally planned, wherein they simply buy time in an auction from carriers. Apple had elaborateplans for a real time auction system, even letting consumers do it automaticallys (i.e. by apple) or choose a carrier to prefer.

If they do that competitivley presumably their rateplans will be less because they are not subsidizing the phone. If they can reduce the cost further with ads then their rate plan is going to beat everyone elses.

Guess what happens then? Well if my contract with XYZ-mobile is up, and I can move my existing phone over to the google network, then googles rates are going to be much more attractive than staying with XYZ mobile since there is no subsidy.

I note that recently T-mobile has new plans out for the Bring-your-own-phone crowd. They are slightly cheaper and offer more minutes that the "free-phone" plans.

On top of that, for people who do buy a google phone, then since they shelled out the cash already, they are going to stick with the unsubsidized google phone rate plan rather than sign up with a company offering "free" phones and pay a hidden subsidy they will never use? Thus this builds loyalty to google like airline miles do.

Finally there will be corporate fleets. If the google phone lets these corporations buy phones in bulk then it's going to be cheaper in the long ruin for these companies to go with unsubisdized google rates. on top of that if google lets in third party service providers (blackberry like enterprises) then these will be attractive to corprorate fleets who want to be in charge of their own network.

That all assumes google is buying at competitive rates on the open market from carriers.

Re:I have a better idea (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449042)

I'll just continue to buy locked phones, and then drop 10 or 20 whole dollars to get them unlocked at the local electronics mall.

I think you'll see this model start to fail over the next little while, for two reasons -

1) As we move more and more to 'smart phones' like the iPhone that get 'updated' regularly by PCs, you'll see mechanisms whereby the locking gets 'put back' each time you attach the phone to your PC.

2) Networks will move to a model whereby they won't allow 'unlocked' phones on their network.

Personally, I think it's all rubbish. The cable company doesn't subsidize the cost of my TV in their cable package, my ISP doesn't subsidize the cost of my PC in their broadband package (yeah, yeah I know there's a smattering of this, but still...), why don't they just sell the me the phone and the package separately, and be done with it?

Re:I have a better idea (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449120)

Lately that is not good enough. AT&T puts their own screwed up firmware in the Nokias. so you need to not only unlock it but find someone that is good with Cellphones to replace the screwed up carrier version of the OS with the Unlocked unbranded OS that actually has all the features.

I gave up and simply buy unlocked phones. my Nokia 5800 kicks the iphones ass when PyS60 is installed on it so I can whip up apps in a few minutes and do things the guys with iPhones only wish they could. and that's only because apple is deathly afraid of allowing something like Python on the phone.

Only If There's A Choice (1)

FSWKU (551325) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447630)

I can only see this approach working if Google gives buyers a choice. Pay full retail for the phone, or pay the reduced price in exchange for having ads sent to it. However, even that will only work if the ads are unobtrusive, and in no way interfere with normal operation of the device. That means NO having to click through a banner ad to make a call or send a text, NO interstitial ads between pages while browsing, NO watermarking of pictures sent via MMS, etc. A banner along the top I could deal with and ignore easily enough.

That being said, I would still choose to pay full retail for the phone so I don't have to see the ads at all.

Re:Only If There's A Choice (1)

Albanach (527650) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447780)

I'm thinking they might light to monetize calls through Google's 411 service.

By integrating that right into the phone, you can lookup business numbers and then, in theory, charge businesses to have customer calls placed to them.

That way you get a revenue stream, and the only adverts are the ones the customer requests when performing a search.

No idea what the revenue potential would be though.

Re:Only If There's A Choice (3, Insightful)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447788)


I see a problem here. Not for you, but for the advertisers. You're willing to pay not to see the ads. That's almost a good thing for those positioning themselves in the middle, such as Google, as they can essentially extort money from you: "pay up or be blasted by ads." But it's really bad for the actual people selling products because the people with disposable income and the willingness to use it are the ones who've just spent a few quid to avoid all the ads. They're even, as demonstrated by their willingness to pay, the ones who notice ads or are concerned they may be affected by them.

It's one of those stupid situations. Like Slashdot that I have actually previously been a subscriber to (stopped because they only accept PayPal now), which has their inducement to subscribe be eliminating the ads - on one of the few sites where I'm actually occasionally interested by the ads.

Re:Only If There's A Choice (1)

Dare nMc (468959) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448196)

the people with disposable income

you can stop their, no matter the pay those with disposable income are the (minority) who consistently spend less than they earn. The target audience are generally the ones who you can convince to juggle one more monthly expense and only cut back when someone finally cuts their credit card in half.

Re:Only If There's A Choice (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449142)

I see a problem for the non tech savvy.

I guarantee that a crack+adblocker will show up minutes after the phone is available.

Ads? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30447668)

Really? Don't they realize it will annoy people? I think it would hurt the N.O.'s sales.

Something Else (3, Interesting)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447670)

Google doesn't want to be in the phone business or the mobile carrier business, so this must be about something else, and that's the advertising business, since Google is in the business of selling ads.

This is just my guess, and I'm not highly paid analyst, but isn't it possible that Google understands that it is in their best interests to have a more open cell phone market. I thought from the start that it was obvious that that was the purpose; originally they were going to do it by strong arming the bandwidth auctions but that fell through and they weren't prepared to actually bid and implement the system themselves. Now they've moved on to working within the system, opening what is arguably one of the best mobile OS's to any manufacturer that wants it, provided they play by certain rules including a minumum level of openness.

Re:Something Else (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448188)

Google is in the business of dominating online advertising. It is unclear whether the purpose of chrome is to create 'open' smartphones or to create a browsing experience that can compete with MS. We hear much talk about the number of chrome based phones we expect, but so far it is just talk. Chrome itself is not developed in an open manner, but is only released as a finished product, which means that person who want to develop with perhaps have a a more difficult situation developing timely than some closed source models.

We also have seen that Google will put experimental projects on the market just to see if any salutes. At one time, for instance, Google docs looked like a very good solution, but now it is not clear what the future of this software will be. It is possible that this may be a Chrome only software.

So the only thing that is possible is that Google thinks by dominating the mobile market with cheap phones they can dominate the paid ad business on mobile devices just like the desktop. This is not a problem for those who do not care if google knows the content of every text message, and therefore will be good for the market place.

Re:Something Else (1)

timbck2 (233967) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448954)

s/chrome/android/g

There, fixed that for you...

Re:Something Else (1)

Wiarumas (919682) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449044)

I disagree. I don't think Google is entirely hell bent on dominating the online advertising industry with every little thing they release/announce. Sure, it may be one of their priority goals, but I'm pretty sure they are wanting to diversify themselves to ensure that when competition comes around, they don't have all their eggs in one basket. I really think that they are just trying to capture a small niche of the market just as a branding effort - not a big brother/advertising scheme. Its a new pond and they are in it with some big fish - like the ATT + Apple duo. At this point in time there is nothing they can do that can overthrow that, but they can chisel away at them just by trying to dream up an unconventional business model. I really think they are just buttering us up and pissing off the competition just because they can. Then, one day, they'll drop the big bomb on us. It'll be some sort of voip phone that uses some sort of national WAN they set up when we were sleeping.

Re:Something Else (1)

AaronMK (1375465) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448250)

"originally they were going to do it by strong arming the bandwidth auctions but that fell through and they weren't prepared to actually bid and implement the system themselves."

I thought that the winner of that auction was required to open up the network on that spectrum, no matter who it was. Google should be creating an open phone, and using their large legal muscle and position in the public spotlight to force Verizon to fulfill that obligation of openness that came with the spectrum. Even if they can't open the cell market in general, they should at least be able to open up Verizon.

Re:Something Else (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448724)

What about a disruptive technology like peer to peer calling over distributed networks or micro nets.

If call where free. i.e. its just your wifi bandwidth to the next persons phone then it could catch on and cut out the telcos completely (if it could be made to work). Does google voice have to p2p elements?

This would mean that the Telcos could not control the channel or ask for a share of revenue

Unlikely (4, Interesting)

watanabe (27967) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447678)

I think it unlikely that Google would use on-device ads to help phone costs: their traditional strategy has been to use ads to monetize core offerings, not ancillary ones. Ancillary offerings bring you back to the core offerings, where ads are effectively placed.

There's so much speculation right now on the market, but I think that it's clear that Google could do something really interesting without the use of on-device monetization right now, e.g. the $199 unlocked super-phone that's being discussed in the more rumor-mill-ish blogs right now. If they could be cash-neutral doing that, and simultaneously disintermediate wireless carriers (a side-goal they've had for some time now), AND double Android's market share in the US, the mobile device group will be getting large bonuses, mark my words.

A totally new business model which likely reduces the amount of uptake from consumers: not so likely right now; Google has lots of cash and wants lots of market share. It's not a time to futz around with stuff like this: consumers would generally LOVE an iphone-a-like which costs $30 a month for unlimited calling and only costs $199. If Google can get that out the door, they'll have done plenty already in the last eighteen months.

Re:Unlikely (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30447762)

But the iphone is crap...

Is there a niche for this? (4, Insightful)

mlts (1038732) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447706)

As it stands in the US, there are two well entrenched market niches for smartphones. The first of which are the unlocked phones (or the phones one pays full retail price for from a provider.) This is about $400-$600. The second is the provider sponsored phone where one pays the cost of the phone via a contract. The price ceiling in the US is effectively set for this by Apple at around $200.

The ads wouldn't be welcomed in the unlocked phone arena. If I pay the premium price tag for an unlocked phone, I won't be buying one that slings ads at me. If the contract changes while I have the phone, I'll be rooting the device and yanking that "functionality" out, or not accepting the changes in my contract and will toss the phone in the garbage. Then I will go with a provider who wouldn't pull that on me.

If I were paying for a phone subsidized over 2 years, ads are not welcome here either. If my phone gets an OTA update to become an ad vomiter, that is a change in my contract that I do not have to accept, and I will trash the phone and change providers.

So, where would the ad-supported device model come to play? I see only one place, and that is the low end market, such as the prepaid phones one sees for sale for $15-$30, or the "free" phones that come with a 1-2 year contract. Maybe this market is what Google might be aiming for, where people would tolerate ads in return for a smartphone that costs $20.

LOL! What An Idiot! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30447844)

"The price ceiling in the US is effectively set for this by Apple at around $200."

Because 'teh iPhone!!!' is, like, 'teh best thing ever!!!!'

You're an idiot mlts. Shut the fuck up in the future, k?

Re:LOL! What An Idiot! (2, Insightful)

nitefallz (221624) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448114)

He didn't say the iPhone was the best thing ever. He did state a fact though. No smartphone that's been released since the iPhone (from what I've seen) has had a subsidized price of anything over $200. Largely due to the fact that the masses would see "iPhone for $200, or something else for more.. why?".

So.. you can shut your pie hole and learn not to assume. Straw man fallacy, look it up.

Re:LOL! What An Idiot! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30449358)

You have zero clue of what you are talking about. The iPhone is the ONLY device out there that is virtually 100% secure, and has never been breached in the wild.

The only time where it has been breached is when jailbreakers, which have been likened to terrorists because they jeopardize the security of cell phone networks destroy the device's security.

Re:Is there a niche for this? (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448102)

Maybe this market is what Google might be aiming for, where people would tolerate ads in return for a smartphone that costs $20.

The $20 cell phone appeals to the poor, elderly and disabled. Not the most promising market for the advertiser.

Re:Is there a niche for this? (2, Informative)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449054)

The $20 cell phone appeals to the poor, elderly and disabled. Not the most promising market for the advertiser.

One of the reasons the poor are poor is because they ARE a prime target, and sucker for, advertising. I'll throw out Blue Hippo as an example: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2009/11/like-taking-candy-computers-from-a-baby-the-poor.ars [arstechnica.com] .

Re:Is there a niche for this? (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448126)

... The second is the provider sponsored phone where one pays the cost of the phone via a contract. The price ceiling in the US is effectively set for this by Apple at around $200.

I believe I saw some subsidized smart phones that were at-or-around 200 USD before the iPhone came out. I know definitely before the 3Gs came out, but only vaguely remember some from before the regular iPhone so I might be mistaken. It was probably AT&T or Verizon since T-Mobile likes to act on the cheap.

Perhaps some BlackBerries or some of the Motorola ones.

Given the choice I'd rather buy a full priced unlocked and unrestricted phone directly from the manufacturer, which is why I used to like buying them from Sony-Ericcson's online store.

Re:Is there a niche for this? (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448228)

More importantly, what good does it do me in the U.S. to have an unlocked phone if it's GSM only? That effectively means that, instead of being locked into one carrier, I get to choose from *2* carriers (one of which is AT&T, which no one in their right mind would choose anyway). Whoopty do!

Re:Is there a niche for this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448422)

...and the other that is rolling out a 3G network using a different frequency pair than everyone else. :P

Re:Is there a niche for this? (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448576)

If one travels abroad, GSM capability does mean a lot. One can either use a GSM provider such as T-Mobile that has towers in the destination country, or if the phone is unlocked, swap the SIM card out for a local provider and go that route. A number of countries tend to go with pay-as-you-go SIM cards where one buys the SIM at a store with x amount of time on it and uses that until it is depleted.

Even in the US, there isn't a real alternative. Until both the CDMA providers here support R-UIM cards (unlikely, but it might happen when they get rolling to 4G), you have to get authorization to have a phone's ESN put onto a CDMA provider's network (and from what various forums state, getting authorization for a phone may not be easy). Even if one is able to bypass the lock (generally more difficult than the average SIM card unlocking), moving a phone across the American CDMA providers is nowhere as easy as GSM technology.

If in the US, I'd probably say none of this matters, because not many people (relatively) buy unlocked phones and then shop for a provider. Unless someone has an existing contract, Americans tend to buy a phone and deal with the provider secondary, as opposed to other parts of the world where one shops for a phone, then shops for a provider. This isn't to say people don't do that in the US, but it is more difficult to find a phone and match it to a provider (US GSM is wonky with its oddball frequency ranges used) than it is to either find a provider you like and shop from their phone collection, or find a phone you like and deal with the carrier.

Re:Is there a niche for this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448578)

I'll say only this: Paying Google Voice services. That's where my money is!

Re:Is there a niche for this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448708)

What the hell are you talking about? The idea is the phone's price with be subsidized based on the fact that you receive ads. So you have an unlocked phone, for contract prices (without the contract, just ads).

Would you rather a $200 phone with 2 (3 years in Canada) contract that is locked to your carrier?

Or

Would you rather a $200 phone, no contract, unlocked to any carrier, that receives an Ad via text message/email/etc. once every couple days (or hell, I'll take one every day if you want. It's not hard to delete a received message, I do it all the time with people I don't want to talk to at the time.)

Why exactly are people so afraid of ads? You simply ignore or delete them. It's not like they're going to intrude on any actual user experience (otherwise people stop using, and ads become worthless. I don't think Google is going to do this (or ever have)).

Re:Is there a niche for this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30449280)

Why are we afraid of ads? Because once the mechanism is there, the ad that might come every couple of days will become every day, then every hour, then once every 10 minutes.

This happened with cable. At first, the lure to get people to pay for it was that there would be zero ads. Then ads started appearing between shows. Then ads ramped up so they are now just as bad as OTA broadcasting.

The Internet is another example. First came the static banner pictures. Then the animated GIFs. Then the "punch the monkey" Flash ads. Then the banners turned into tower ads, taking a sizable chunk of screen real estate. Web pages that had content that scrolled down became postage stamp chunks where one has to hit "Next" every couple sentences so the content providers can throw more ads in your face. And this is all not even mentioning the adware/spyware wars for peoples' desktops.

Phones won't be any different. Ads will creep onto a phone until there is a point reached where the device becomes too annoying to even bother with, even if the device was free. It doesn't matter if the phone costs $0 and is ad supported, or $400 and has the same OTA push mechanism. In both cases, ad providers will push as many ads as they can get away with until the phone becomes unusable. I don't advocate regulation first, but there is absolutely -nothing- pushing the ad companies back from having their stuff jamming the device as much as possible.

I can see the ad-supported phones already. The phone's screen real estate will at all times be plastered by vibrating animated ads on 1/3 to 1/2 the screen, one must answer an ad to unlock the screensaver, and one must watch (and acknowledge) a 15-30 second ad before placing a non-emergency call. I can see even worse than that. The phone using a speakerphone to stream audio ads just like radio unless the device is physically shut off.

I'm sure the advertisers are slavering to get their junk on phones. Already marketers call it the "third screen" to always have some form of chatter coming at the consumer 24/7. And consumers have to have the cajones (regardless of gender) to say NO. Of course, with ads come tracking, so it wouldn't be far fetched for advertisers to not just get control of a device, but be able to get GPS locations of everyone they are spewing ads to.

Do not want! (2, Insightful)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447754)

I dunno about the rest of you, but I'd rather pay the full whack for an unlocked Maemo phone. I know we are in a recession and all, but an ad-supported phone seems going a bit far.

If after a year I want a new phone I will sell the unlocked phone for significantly more than an identical phone that is locked, but given that the 'average Joe' would rather pay 50 a month for 2 years than 500 upfront I will be one of the few, which is unfortunately making it harder for me to source my unlocked phones

The whole point of having a phone that runs Linux is the freedom of being able to customise and 'hack' it, not have it make sure I'm looking at the required number of ads. Far too often these days a Linux-based device only runs Linux because it saves the manufacturer the trouble of licensing a kernel or writing their own.

Re:Do not want! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30447966)

I have the Nokia N900 and thus far am very happy with it. (I live in Colorado)
Combined with T-Mobile's no contract plan, seems a no brainer to anyone that can afford the phone.
(This coming from someone not well versed in Linux development, but learning)

It's cheaper to buy straight from manufacturer (2, Informative)

iamapizza (1312801) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447796)

AFAIK (in the UK at least), with a contract, you're paying x per month, and you're tied in for a contract of usually about 18 months. That 18x comes out to more than the cost of the phone. For example, look at the HTC Magic from Vodafone [vodafone.co.uk] Total: 720 GBP which is obviously more than the cost of the phone. Or am I missing something that's US-specific?

Re:It's cheaper to buy straight from manufacturer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448144)

No, you are not missing a US-specific point, you are missing the entire point. Unfortunately, I do not have the time to explain it in detail, as I am off to the gym in 26 minutes.

Re:It's cheaper to buy straight from manufacturer (1)

Ma'at (68095) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448150)

The problem is that if you bring your own phone to a US carrier, you don't get a discounted rate. Effectively, any wireless plan you buy will include a 2-year lock-in and the extra cost for a phone subsidy, wether you use the subsidy or not. There are a few small carriers that don't have long term contracts with built in subsidies, but there is no cost benefit to bringing your own phone to any of the national carriers.

Re:It's cheaper to buy straight from manufacturer (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448372)

Try T-Mobile. They just rolled out discounted month to month rates if you have your own phone.

Re:It's cheaper to buy straight from manufacturer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448380)

Not true -- with Sprint, you are required to add special features to your contract (SprintTV, navigation, and such) in order to get a "subsidized" smartphone. If you buy the phone elsewhere and activate it onto your account, you're allowed to use it with a cheaper non-premium data plan.

Re:It's cheaper to buy straight from manufacturer (2, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448176)

For example, look at the HTC Magic from Vodafone Total: 720 GBP which is obviously more than the cost of the phone

But aren't you also paying for your baseline cell phone service?

Re:It's cheaper to buy straight from manufacturer (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448298)

AFAIK (in the UK at least), with a contract, you're paying x per month, and you're tied in for a contract of usually about 18 months. That 18x comes out to more than the cost of the phone. For example, look at the HTC Magic from Vodafone [vodafone.co.uk] Total: 720 GBP which is obviously more than the cost of the phone. Or am I missing something that's US-specific?

Pretty much, you're right.

I read some past threads on either Slashdot or elsewhere that had people reporting that they were able to successfully renegotiate their contract with customer service when the contract was up for this specific reason, but I'd never met anyone in person that's done that.

In the US you get tied to a contract, but you're typically paying the same price whether-or-not you subsidize the phone. So you're paying the same monthly fee whether you're using a new subsidized phone or an old phone or an unlocked phone you picked up from eBay.

On the other hand, if you get yourself a nice handset (perhaps a smart phone) for a good deal on a manufacturer's site and you force yourself to use it for a couple of years (such as 2 contract lengths) then you might win out since the subsidies don't cover the full cost of the nicer phones and I recall seeing sales/deals on SonyEriccson.com

Re:It's cheaper to buy straight from manufacturer (1)

limaxray (1292094) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448682)

You're missing the key point that the contract price includes cellular service. If you buy the phone outright, you don't get service. The service costs much more (and has greater profit margins) than the phone, which is why carriers are willing to subsidize phones like this.

I personally don't understand why anyone (in the US at least) would want to buy a phone out of contract. You're almost always guaranteed to pay more for the phone compared to taking the contract, even if you decide to bail and pay the ETF.

Re:It's cheaper to buy straight from manufacturer (1)

s0litaire (1205168) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449500)

Nope! you're not missing a thing!

It's just the Americans are not used to forcing their Mobile Telcos to provide them with good "value for service".

If a lot of people go "Sim Free" then the Telcos' will have to adapt, since more of their users are not handcuffed to their service and can move at any time...

Which is a GOOD thing, as it promotes competition. In the end, you are getting a better service...

android already drives ad revenue (1)

farble1670 (803356) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447858)

1. most android devices are tightly coupled with google services. if you get someone using google mail, calendar, etc on the phone, of course they will use the web interface at some point and be subjected to ads.

2. many android apps already make use of admob for the "free" version.

i doubt google would make adds an inherent part of the phone experience.

Unsubsidized? Less crippled than an iPhone? Lame. (1)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447910)

Why are analysts always so effin' dense? Google is in the "no one gets between us and our ad-clicking users" business. They're one of the largest collections of smart people on the planet. They wanted in the mobile phone business, so they got in the mobile phone business. They own an ass-ton of fiber and manipulated the wireless auctions in their favor. They're not just an advertising company, they're the "we're the god damn Internet" company.

No one bought unlocked Nokia smartphones because nobody in America wants Nokia smartphones, subsidized or otherwise.

Reminds me of MicroSoft and Xbox... (1)

MindPrison (864299) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447932)

No newcomer on any marked really understand (without experience) the price tag for playing as a part of the game. Google is a giant, but not in every area, Nokia is a giant too, but as google..not in every area, they're both players in their own area of expertise - and the price for entering into each others pissing fields - could be very expensive, such as . eg. Microsoft experienced when they ventured into the area of console gaming.

(read between the lines, before you reply!)

Wait... (1)

PerfectionLost (1004287) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447938)

Aren't unlocked phones more expensive? Shouldn't our monthly rate be cheaper if we pay full cost for the phone, since the cost of the phone is not hidden in the service fees?

Re:Wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448128)

Aren't unlocked phones more expensive? Shouldn't our monthly rate be cheaper if we pay full cost for the phone, since the cost of the phone is not hidden in the service fees?

Some providers in the US have recently started offering exactly this -- lower-cost service plans where you're not locked into a 2 year contract. This is because they're not subsidizing the cost of your phone over the span of that contract.

Where will the ads be? (1)

Voyager529 (1363959) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447960)

My question is where Google will put the ads so that they are actually seen. If they build it into software, it's only a matter of time before the phone is rooted/jailbroken/HardSPL'd and ad-free firmware ends up on Rapidshare. Then it's just a matter of simplifying the process down to making it feasible for anyone sick enough of the ads to make the gamble of performing a warranty-voiding process on their phone, and unless ads live unobtrusively in the browser, Google will end up right next to the iPhone, silently fighting the gPhone Dev Team.

Re:Where will the ads be? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448092)

The ads will be served on the network side.

Google phone user side: "Thank you for using the Google Nexus One. We're connecting your call to Bob but first we'd like to tell you a little about the all new [insert product name here]..."

Person being called: "Jim is calling you from his Google Nexus One. While we're connecting you we would like to let you know about the exciting new [insert product name here]..." /scared

Phone cost subsidies (3, Informative)

gehrehmee (16338) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447984)

I look at telecom subsidation of phone costs as a small loan. Can't/won't buy the phone with your own cash up-front? We'll loan you that money, and you pay it back a little bit every month on your bill. This breaks down because if you buy a plan without getting subsidized, you pay a higher price per month for your phone service (ie, the same monthly payment, but with none of it going to a loan repayment).

The workaround for this: If I sign up for a 3-year contract, you can either give me a cheaper monthly rate, OR give me a phone-up front, OR give me a cash bonus upfront, approximately the same amount the subsidy would cost. That way I can take that cash and buy whatever I want with it (if it happens to be a smart phone, awesome).

THIS breaks down because the telecom wants to have absolute control over what I can and can't do on their network, and won't budge to give up any leeway there. I don't have a workaround for that one yet :)

Re:Phone cost subsidies (1)

gehrehmee (16338) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448170)

Of course, recouping cost via advertising is another spin... but ultimately comes down to repayment. If we really want to subject ourselves to ads, we should be able to do it for straight-up cash, or payment on our loan (of cash or phone-lease).

The word "lease" just clarified this issue a bit for me. Leasing equipment from our phone provider is really an old idea... and one we've fought hard against. Why are we so anxious to get back into that situation?

Re:Phone cost subsidies (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448956)

Leases make sense when you want something new every few years. They don't if you want to actually own the thing and use it for more than a short period of time. Different goals in mind... most people like getting a new cell phone every two years, all the new gadgets and features and stuff.

Re:Phone cost subsidies (1)

gehrehmee (16338) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449052)

Assuming that leases are a good idea for phones (I don't think they are. Even a $1000 phone isn't so expensive that it should require a 2-3 year payment plan. At the end of a "lease", you return the item with value to its owner, or buy it out. But phones depreciate way too fast for that to be reasonable), why would you lease your phone from the person running the telecom network?

We've trained it for them (4, Insightful)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448008)

All of us using GOOG-411 and Google Voice have done a splendid job training their voice recognition system. Within a year, I predict that you'll be seeing ads relevant to the conversation you're having while you're still having it. "It's been ages since I've had good sushi!" -> ad for nearby expensive sushi restaurants.

oh I can't wait for this (2, Funny)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448204)

This will take phone sex to a whole other level!

Re:We've trained it for them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448392)

Not only that, they'll be able to use the ad revenue to engage in some truly rapacious robber barony.

The U.S. telcos are in pathetic shape as it is. They're flabby, collusive, and generally non-competitive. An ad-supported 'free' phone service will pull the rug out from the few small communications providers we have left and seriously challenge the big players, who will be very slow to react. We could be looking at a future of cheap smart-phones with 'free' plans, and collapsing revenues for companies like Verizon unless they adopt the Google model. (Which Google is already best at.) With nobody equipped to compete with them, the Google monolith will swallow up the North American telco industry as well. I give it seven years or less. It'd be too easy to pull off, they have the technology, the infrastructure, and the money to do it, and now they have their first phone.

It's actually the best chance we have of reviving anti-trust legislation for the big phone and cable providers. Google is going to be stepping on a lot of toes soon, and the only way to bring them under control to protect the big boys from complete domination would be a regulatory Pyrrhic victory for them. I say go for it. I don't want Microsoft 2.0 owning that infrastructure any more than I want the current owners to hold onto it.

It's like I've said before, Google wants a world without privacy or competition, because information is their commodity and they want it all. They haven't been building up steam for the past decade just to fritter it away on philanthropy and vaporware research projects. They're primed to begin an all-out assault on the telcos, which if successful will create a nearly perfect advertising machine for Google. Every medium except paper will gather data from you and deliver ads tailored to you. This is the opening shot right here.

Re:We've trained it for them (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449510)

All of us using GOOG-411 and Google Voice have done a splendid job training their voice recognition system. Within a year, I predict that you'll be seeing ads relevant to the conversation you're having while you're still having it. "It's been ages since I've had good sushi!" -> ad for nearby expensive sushi restaurants.

It's kind of hard to see the screen when it's next to your ear, but yes, when you hang up, that's reasonable. I rather expect good ads for YouTube is easier to handle.

twice as much? (4, Interesting)

farble1670 (803356) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448086)

the price of an unlocked phone always seemed wrong to me. these are cheap, mass produced, underpowered devices using yesterday's technology for the most part. why do they cost $600?

Smaller is not cheaper (3, Informative)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448632)

these are cheap, mass produced, underpowered devices using yesterday's technology for the most part. why do they cost $600?

Because even "yesterdays technology" costs a lot to produce when you have to shrink it by a factor of 10 and at the same time make it use far less power.

Re:Smaller is not cheaper (1)

farble1670 (803356) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448770)

the okay, so verizon eats $400+ every time they offer a discounted phone for $99? unless you can point me to contract-less plan that makes up $400 over 2 years. the only provider i know of that offers such plans are t-mobile, and the contract-less option is about $10 cheaper a month.

Android-AdBlock (4, Interesting)

C_Kode (102755) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448106)

It's unlocked. How soon to Ad-Block for Android comes out?

Re:Android-AdBlock (1)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448782)

Unlocked merely means you can use it with any compatible service provider; it's not artificially locked to a single provider. Just because a phone is unlocked, it doesn't mean you have root access on it.

How would it work? (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448118)

If this was truly an "unlocked" phone, especially if it's meant to be a developer-friendly phone, I don't see how they could add on-device ads that I couldn't remove.

Wish I could get a prepaid smart phone (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448160)

Right now I dual-wield. I have a Tracfone & iPod Touch. I don't talk or text a lot. I spend $6 per month for 60 minutes. I got an LG600G [tracfone.com] , which is pretty plain-vanilla. I'd be willing to pay a few hundred for an iPhone or Android Phone that just let me pre-pay for talk time & texting & web access. There's plenty of prepaid feature phones available, but their rates are ridiculous compared to Tracfone's. I can't imagine buying the phone, pay for a contract with somebody AND having to view ads (even if they're only text).

Re:Wish I could get a prepaid smart phone (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449034)

You can buy a G1 or MyTouch from T-Mobile for $400.00 or so. You can get it unlocked from T-Mobile if you wish.

You can use it with pre-paid service from any GSM provider.

But, the data access will be expensive.

cheap PDA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448308)

I could see this being useful, depending on how the ads get activated. Personally, I'd like to find a cheap (and I mean in the price range of the old Zire 71) replacement for my PalmOS devices. Smartphones are *WAY* too expensive, regardless of whether you look at the price full up-front, or if it instead gets screwed out of you on a monthly basis for 2 years. So here you might be able to get a GooglePhone on the cheap, and then never activate it with a wireless carrier, using it only locally, perhaps with your WiFi router at home at most. If you never activated it with a carrier, how would they send ads to you?

Any credible sources? (1)

the ReviveR (1106541) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448310)

Is there any bit more official or trusted source that is actually confirming that google is bringing out its own phone?

Eldar Murtazin which I would consider a moderately trustworthy source regarding mobiles says that he has talked about it with a google employee and it's a fake. [phandroid.com]

So many news and comments that seem to think this is real that I can't really form an opinion myself. If google does do this, it is a bit of a slap on the face for it's Android allies. Google is suddenly a competitor with a clear advantage.

This reminds me of an idea I had (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448350)

about 20 years ago.

I was discussing the problems of getting phone service to people with little or no income, and the political difficulties of cutting peoples phone service.

I suggested they give people the option of getting advertising in exchange for free or discounted service.

Like after being on the phone for 30 seconds you would hear a one time ad like "Drink Coca-cola" or some such.

I wish I could remember the CEOs exact quote. It was something like "small ads in a lot of place will never generate income".

Re:This reminds me of an idea I had (2, Interesting)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448826)

That's alright, A friend and I had a way cool idea about 27-28 years ago about a map you could carry around and the "you are here" spot would mark your location as you moved around. Cool but impossible. Just a couple of years before, we openly mocked a fellow classmate who wanted to write a program to automatically turn on the computer. What a fool, he was. I'll say it here: Amrit (Paul) Rishi - I apologize for thinking your idea was idiotic - several of my computers now use wake-on-lan, and scheduling that brings them out of sleep to run backups.

I just wish we'd thought about going further with that damned map idea...

I need to call 911 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448430)

Try these emergency medicine doctors in your area today...

or

Going to be in the hospital for months?... Subscribe to these magazine NOW ....

or

Got pain? Try these prescription pharmaceuticals from your local drug-pushing A.M.A.-endorsed "DOCTOR"...

What's so special about the world's biggest ad agency known as Google? Would someone please take away their business.

Yours In Riga,
K.T.

Apple patent pending (2, Interesting)

MouseR (3264) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448464)

This is precisely why Apple filed for a patent on this recently.

It's a way for them to block potential ad revenues from Android, protecting the high price of their iPhone.

unlocked "approach" largely failed? (1)

TopSpin (753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448512)

So Nokia's little Apple-wannabe store(s) somewhere near er... Chicago, or something, falls flat and that means no one wants unlocked phones? Whatever.

If you would like to participate in the failing unlocked phone market don't lament the poor performance of Nokia's fail brick-and-mortar outlets. Just head over here [newegg.com] and buy a perfectly good unlocked Nokia 5530 GSM or any one of 105 other unlocked phones of all levels of capability. Need a cheap unlocked phone that works well with no monthly bill? Buy a RAZR V3 for $80, get some minutes from T-Mobile and forget about it. It works fine.

Bundling is a racket. Don't support it.

Unlocked is still locked to the radio right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448670)

Isn't a major problem with unlocked in the U.S. the fact that you're tied to the phones radio type? I'm not educated on the matter so maybe I'm mistaken. I wouldn't mind buying a n900 but it doesn't work with my carrier and I've had pretty decent service from them despite their poor reputation.

Re:Unlocked is still locked to the radio right? (1)

pwfffff (1517213) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449004)

Yeah, I got a G1 for the 3g, but it turns out AT&T doesn't use the 'right' frequencies. At least the 2g works though.

Or maybe they know what they're doing... (1)

EriktheGreen (660160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448706)

It's amusing and sad to see "industry pundits" guess at what Google might be planning. After all, this is a company which has grown huge and leads in many areas of technology and business by virtue of its ethics, good governance, foresight, and research.

If the pundits could predict what Google was doing, they'd be rich corporate heads, not writers trying to guess what's going on.

I personally think that just maybe Google is going to offer a "free" phone.. not free as in beer, free as in speech.. where it costs more than a "subscriber sponsored" phone, maybe more than the iPhone, but which users will buy if it's not insanely expensive simply to get a "free" device... one not locked to a carrier with features turned off because the carrier wants to protect its business model.

One with a standard design and API that permits software to be developed with more than generic features, like the iPhone. But one that's not locked to Apple's corporate policies and whims, like the iPhone.

One that will set a standard for a new type of wireless phone system that is "the way it ought to be" with users owning their full featured phones and having the freedom to buy minutes from whichever carrier they like on a day to day basis, or to buy none at all but to use the ubiquitous wireless hotspots and networks to make calls.

Google may be using its corporate muscle to break the wireless carriers' hold on the market, a hold which has ensured them profits but which has stymied development of truly next generation wireless connectivity, which itself would drive a major change in society. Remember what internet access was like before wireless? Imagine that kind of change if the wireless carriers loosen their government ensured grip on the market.

Data and voice for everyone, "the way it ought to be". And it may start with a free phone.

Erik

Google's strategy may be more sound than it seems (1)

Xamusk (702162) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448836)

If you think a deep further, with a LOT of imagination, one could envision another scenario:

It's possible Google is preparing for a non net-neutrality world, in which it would have to pay for the vast amount of bandwidth that it's clients use. Actually, Google is one of the first targets of those who wish to double-charge for bandwith (charge for users and providers at the same time).

In this world, a sensible way out of that cash-hole is for Google to be an ISP on its own. For that purpose, it could acquire dark fiber and try to acquire wireless spectrum (or lobby the FCC to make some unlicensed spectrum bands). With those at hand, it could make devices which are capable of forming mesh networks (if Android support that in the future, which is not unlikely). Those networks would then be connected by fiber over long distances. As such, how to get enough coverage to have a reliable mesh network? One answer it to make available a Google Phone which would have a great appeal if it could make free calls through Google Voice. That would ensure quite good acceptance from users.

That's it. A simple scenario. Seems quite possible to me, though I'm not an expert on the economics required to make it a reality (though if there's one company with enough resources to make it happen, that company is Google).

Note: the words marked with bold indicate topics which were discussed at a number of times right here on Slashdot.

Sugestion: try mexico!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448842)

maybe they won't sell millions of phones (or maybe they will) here in mexico buying the phones as stand alones (pre paids) its more popular, and selling the phones not attached to a specific carrier would make wonders in theyr selling numbers.

thats my 2 cents.

Will Goolge pay the data bill for the adds as with (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448876)

Will Goolge pay the data bill for the adds as with out a plan the cost is very high even more so if you go out side of the usa. Canada is about $71 for 35meg.

Re:Will Goolge pay the data bill for the adds as w (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449074)

I don't have a contract with T-Mobile, but I have a month to month unlimited voice, text, and data plan for $85/month.

No keyboard (1)

leighklotz (192300) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448914)

It doesn't have a keyboard. No thanks.

I misread the headline (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448964)

As "Aids To Offset Cost of Unlocked Google Phone?".

More the sort of thing certain people would endure to get an iPhone cheaply, I suppose.

Google wants your data (1)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449060)

there is a company selling data only/VOIP cell phones through AT&T and there was a rumor that Google was going to sell a data only cell phone for $20 a month through AT&T. abovethecrowd.com had a nice post about Google's business model and how they share add revenues.

I bet this phone will be data only and use Google Voice for everything. AT&T doesn't care since they want to be a dumb pipe. Google will make money because everything you do on the internet will be logged in their servers and they will sell the data to everyone

Carrier free? (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449072)

What I am most interested about regarding this phone was the article I read that said you could use the phone carrier-free over existing WiFi networks. Combined with a Google Voice phone #, you could use this phone without having a carrier at all. Of course you would need WiFi to use it this way, so you may not always have coverage, but for city dwellers, this is an interesting option. Add to the fact that you could primarily use the phone this way, and carry a pre-paid SIM with you for the times you need to use the phone but there is no WiFi available, and you could put together a very low cost phone solution. Even if the phone was several hundred dollars more initially to buy without a contract, you could recover any extra money spent very quickly by not having a monthly fee.

augmented reality, brought to you by Google (1)

Michael Restivo (1103825) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449252)

Not sure if this is so obvious it's not worth mentioning, but given the geo-aware capabilities of smart phone, Google looks poised to bring advertisements to your phone, where you are. 'Sponsored Links' for your augmented reality browser.

There's a simpler way... (1)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449378)

for anyone who's willing to do some basic math (which may or may not describe the "average" American.) Verizon has a low-talk-minutes, unlimited text and "unlimited" data plan for $100 a month. T-Mobile has the "Even More Plus" plan with low-talk-minutes, unlimited text and "unlimited" data for $60 a month. Over the course of a year you'll have saved $480 with a T-Mobile phone (like the Nexus One, supposedly) vs a Verizon Phone (like the Droid.) I expect that's more than the discount you'd be getting from Verizon in exchange for a _two_ year contract. No ads required.

Sold at cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30449560)

If I remember correct, isn't the iPhone BOM somewhere around $180-200. I would bet Google probably can build the Nexus for a similar price. Assuming the decide to sell it at cost of build they could be in a great position to "kill 2 birds with 1 stone". They would have both a iPhone competitor and a phone that sent a lot more eyes to their ad based services (which makes them the magical PROFIT).

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