Nexus One Not Ballardian Free Ad Phone

Where's my free Google phone service - free service provided in exchange for viewing advertisements? After all, didn't Eric Schmidt, Google CEO, tell Reuters in 2006 that "'Your mobile phone should be free... It just makes sense that subsidies should increase' as advertising rises on mobile phones."

And didn't Google just buy mobile-ad provider AdMob for $750 million? Sounds "groundwork-laying" to me.

At $529 unlocked, though, the nifty new Nexus One (not Nexus Six) phone is not what you'd expect to see as a free phone.


(Nexus One web meets phone ad video)

There have been attempts at providing free cell phone service in return for ad-watching:

  • Blyk, the UK MVNO that is perhaps the most well-known of the pack, went live on September 24th with an ambitious free mobile phone service. As the website claims, “[w]hen you join Blyk you get a free SIM with 217 free texts and 43 free minutes, to any UK network. [And] every month Blyk refills this SIM and, like magic, your free balance returns to 217 texts and 43 free minutes.” As the quid pro quo, users receive 6 color advertisements sent to their phones as MMS targetted to their specific profile.
  • On the same day, Pudding Media announced the availability of a beta web site that allow users to make free outgoing calls in return for allowing bots to eavesdrop on conversations. Using speech recognition technology, Pudding’s servers listen for keywords that, combined with knowledge of the users gender, age range and zip code, trigger a targeted advertisement to be displayed on the user’s web browser (which must be open while the call is being made).
Neither of these experiments worked, as far as I know. What we need is Google's Jovian capacity to give away useful services for free.

Only then will J.G. Ballard fans have what they have been awaiting since the publication of The Subliminal Man in 1963:

Franklin waited impatiently as the five-second commercial break cut in (all telephone calls were free, the length of the commercial extending with range-for long-distance calls the ratio of commercial to conversation was as high as 10: 1, the participants desperately trying to get a word in edgeways to the interminable interruptions), but just before it ended he abruptly put the telephone down, then removed the receiver from the cradle.
(Read more about Ballard's free ad-supported phone service)

From Third Screen and MSNBC.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/8/2010)

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