Feeds

There is such a thing as a free PC

But would you want it?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Security for virtualized datacentres

Last year there was much talk about ISPs giving low-end PCs away with a monthly subscription to their service. However, unlike the Americans, we Brits hadn't really been used to paying a monthly subscription for our phone calls, and the idea never really took off.

At the end of last month the US Federal Trade Commission issued a formal warning to those who may be tempted by the offers, saying that there had been a number of cases highlighting the need for more clarity.

According to the FTC, promotions by Buy.com, Value America and the Office Depot retail chain, had failed to disclose the true costs and important restrictions on the offers. The government body said that the companies had engaged in deceptive practices in advertising the so-called low-cost PCs.

"You shouldn't need a PhD to figure out the cost of a PC," said Jodie Bernstein, director of the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "These advertisers should have done a better job of disclosing the details so consumers could figure out the deal."

However, there must be a price point where it becomes appropriate for an ISP to offer free hardware in exchange for guaranteed Internet revenues. This business paradigm has worked well in the mobile phone networks and for digital television, where in exchange for a contract and monthly costs, the service company will give you the access equipment, be it a phone or a set top box.

As we move away from the unmetered access business model and people get used to the idea of paying a monthly subscription, there could still be a place for some kind of similar service from the ISPs. Whether it will be a PC or some other net appliance remains to be seen.

Personally, I'd be surprised if any PC that came bundled free with net access had enough oomph to be really interesting, especially if users had to sign a fixed term contract to get it. ®

Related Stories

eMachines snaps up, buries Free-PC
Tiny bins Free PC

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.