Advertising even a mother(board) could hate
How often have you changed the channel during a commercial break and missed part of your favorite TV show because you didn’t want to
watch that same commercial again? How many times have you shown up late for a movie and gotten a bad seat because you didn’t want to
watch the previews?
Get ready to leave the room when you boot up your new computer in the near future. Award/Phoenix Technologies (http://www.phoenix.com) has created a new subsidiary called ebetween (http://www.ebetween.com). ebetween is presenting what it calls “marketing partnerships with several of the top Internet and PC Hardware companies”. What does this mean to you, the end user? It means every time you boot up your computer you’ll see an advertisement for an ISP or a search engine, an advertisement stored in the ROM of your motherboard.
This subsidiary was launched very quietly June 21, but it didn’t escape notice for long. A petition is being circulated to stop the use of motherboards for advertising use. Many valid points are brought up in
the comments section of the petition, including the invasion of privacy issue and the fact that the end user actually owns the motherboard and therefore should be paid every time the computer is booted up.
However, other points aren’t acknowledged. Award/Phoenix Technologies is not the only hardware company involved in this. The following is a listing of all the software and hardware partners as of June 29:
PC Hardware Partners
MicroStar International (MSI)
The product being released by ebetween is called a VBT, or Virtual Bundling Technology. VBT creates an area on your desktop called the “first look” position, where advertisers will have icons linking to their sites and/or services.
This is very reminiscent of the infamous “pop-up ads” that appear on America Online when you sign on. Like those ads, the default for this service is “on.” For first-time computer users or those who aren’t computer savvy, this will be something they see every time they reboot the computer.
The issue of updating the advertisements themselves has also been raised. Many times there are “flash” upgrades to the ROM of your
motherboard for improvements or for fixing bugs caught since the release. These “flash” upgrades may soon be used to update the advertisements on your machine. These updates would make sure that next time you sign on, you’ll have the correct pricing for AOL or Earthlink, or a new advertiser may be added. And, of course, they will want to hit all the target audiences.
Many computer users raise the issues of security and invasion of privacy. And there are times that a “flash” bios upgrade can cause your computer to not reboot. Is it worth the loss of a computer to update
advertisements that consumers didn’t want in the first place? Will they be notified in advance of these upgrades, or will they just be alerted that the upgrade has taken place next time they reboot?
Next time you purchase a motherboard, ask if it is “ad-enabled.” If it is, keep shopping. If by chance the seller sneaks one by you that is “ad-enabled,” you might consider returning it and perhaps contacting an attorney about the violation of your privacy.
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