Would you buy an ad-supported Chromebook?

Summary:Google says that it has no plans to introduce an ad-supported version of the Chromebook. But the move would make sense, and increase adoption rates for the computer.

When Amazon announced an ad-supported version of its Kindle last month, reactions were, quite understandably split. While some dismissed the move as a shameless cash grab, others called it the future of gadgets.

But will Google ever go a similar route with its recently-revealed Chromebook? Not likely, says Google Chrome senior VP Sundar Pichai, who said that Google currently has no plans to release an ad-supported version of the the device.

But should it? At $349, the cheapest version of the Chromebook isn't exactly expensive - but nor was Amazon's $139 Kindle before the company shaved $25 off with the ad-supported model. But if Google is looking for significant adoption rates for the computer, the price may have to come down - and significantly.

Obviously, the best way to do this is to subsidize the Chromebook, following Amazon's lead and offering an ad-supported version of the device. As long as the advertisements are unintrusive - a la the ones that appear on the Kindle's screensaver - customers may not notice nor mind. But they will notice the price, especially if it crosses a psychologically-significant threshold to $299 $199 or $99.

And that may be more important for the Chromebook, which is, by Google's own admission, solely a web device. Convincing consumers to shell out money for such a stripped-down product will be infinitely easier if that product isn't all that expensive to begin with. Google, of course, maintains that the Chromebook is already competitively priced, but the company also argues that the Chromebook is in a category all its own. And the price should follow a similar model.

Topics: Amazon

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Ricardo Bilton writes for ZDNet's The ToyBox.

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