A British start-up is to offer up to free PCs to the public. The catch? The PC fills the screens with ads for 60 seconds every 20 minutes. Each month, the company, Metronomy, mails a CD containing targeted advertising. Your PC will work only if the CD is installed. You must also agree to use the PC at least 30 hours a month and you must sign up to use the Internet. It is unclear from weekend newspaper reports if the punters must pay for Internet access, but if this service is free, Metronomy will have pulled off a extraordinary feat of economic engineering.
Customers sign up for three years, but can simply return their PCs, if they don't want to continue with the scheme, company founder John Thornhill told the Mail on Sunday. Metronomy will monitor computer usage - but not Internet surfing activities - as well as as ad-watching activity. If enough people sign up, this will give the company an opportunity to flog market research, we figure.
And Metronomy is thinking big. In the first phase of the campaign, 200,000 PCs, supplied by IBM, are up for grabs. The company hopes to roll-out the scheme to up to two million homes within three years. The first free PCs will start rolling out early next year. The venture is funded to the tune of "several million pounds" by Peter Fisher, a former chairman of Huddersfield Town FC. And several institutions are underwriting the deal, according to the Mail on Sunday. We guess Metronomy needs enough capital to satisfy IBM that it can meet long-term leasing commitments for the PCs. Also unnamed advertising companies are said to be backing the venture.
View: Sign up for your free PC
View: The full story
News source: The Reg