I see this argument cropping up a lot around the internet. Will Google use the degree of control over the ChromeOS notebook to show you more ads? Has this been the secret all along? Will this model drive the price of the device into a range that people will put up with ad intrusions into their experience?
I felt that it was time to chime in on this argument. I've been using my Cr-48 as my primary machine for nearly a week now. In this time, I have not seen a single ad, aside from the general context ads that Google places within Gmail and their search engine. These just don't bother me that much. For the rest of the internet, as you will note if you look at some of my screenshots, I have a plugin called AdBlock (http://chromeadblock.com) that keeps me from seeing unwanted ads. Google has subsidized some very impressive services with very unobtrusive ads. Don't believe me? Lets travel back in time a little bit.
The year is 1997....roughly. Your reviewer, a young technology nerd, has just had his AOL service shut off. Seeking his internet fix, an unlikely answer comes in the form of a Juno Online disk. Free internet access? I can live with this! Or so I thought. After installing the software and connecting, my 640x480 screen on my Packard Bell was reduced by nearly a third by a massive screen border, filled to the brim with ads. There was no option to rid ones self of this ad menace, and loading the perpetually changing ads led to a horrifyingly bad web experience on a 14.4bps modem. I was glad to get back to AOL a few weeks later.
Ads are part of life nowadays - highways have massive billboards, television often has more ads than content, and the information superhighway has become an enormous advertising medium. Google's context ads are usually on point, filtered to be relevant to something I might care about, and occasionally point me in the right direction for something that I happen to need at the time. If Google's current ad model can sustain some subsidization of services provided, and allow them to create impressive opensource innovations, then I'm not going to complain. To those of you who do, would you mind installing Juno for a day or two? Tell me what you think of Google's ads after just an hour. I bet you'll change your tune.
This rant brought to you by not enough sleep.