Tiny free offer nosedives

Tiny says nobody wanted its free PCs, but other PC makers say that's unlikely.

The announcement that UK computer firm Tiny will cancel its "free" PC offer due to a lack of interest has met an incredulous response from competitors who claim that they've been inundated with demand for similar deals.

A spokesman from rival company Time Computers is at a loss as to why Tiny's offer nose-dived. "They [Tiny] say they've had a lack of interest but we've had plenty and we're certainly continuing our deal," says the spokesman.

European PC retail analyst with Context Research, Christophe Galtier, says that despite Tiny's failure the "free PC" phenomenon is not dead and suggests Tiny probably tried to bite off more than it could chew. "I think it was probably the pressure of setting up its own ISP and telecoms service as part of the deal. This changed Tiny's whole business model. Other companies have run the same sorts of offers by making a deal with an ISP and a telecom service and that's probably easier to do."

Galtier also believes a whole new wave of "free PC" deals is on the way thanks to the arrival of broadband. He adds, "We will see tremendous investment in promoting broadband services and an obvious way is subsidising the price of PCs. This will be different because people will be more prepared to pay for the service and will not just feel as if they're buying a PC in monthly instalments."

A representative from Tiny Computers, however, maintains that the decision to stop the free PC offer is entirely down to public demand. He says, "Out of all the inquiries we got, 90 percent wanted to pay extra for a higher spec computer, so we decided to concentrate on providing those computers instead. Our Telecom and ISP services have been a great success and it's definitely nothing to do with them."