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Google – Why not send Google Pack/OpenOffice CDs to everyone?

Remembering AOL’s strategy of sending AOL sign-up CDs (and before that, floppy disks) to everyone in the country, and how it helped lead them to the top, I think Google should adopt the same tactic.

Make the “Google Pack” starter kit CD, containing all the applications of Google Pack, attached to an easy way to create a Google account for the pack updates, gmail and the other g-services. Add another application to the Pack–, with a new Google plugin that allows it to very easily save and read files stored online with Writely. (Think if it like IMAP email–you can read your email from your heavy desktop client when at home, and from your web interface when on the road.)

Mail this starter kit CD to every high school and college student in the country first. Then to small business owners, then to everyone else. Put it next to the checkout at grocery stores and drugstores, in “Google vending machines” on campuses, and next to the gates at airports for business travelers waiting to board.

New and imaginative distribution channels like this are required, because the existing entrenched monopolist already has a hammerlock on today’s channels. New subscribers who have missed Google’s current (all-digital) distribution efforts will be turned into a huge pool of new customers.

And of course, when OpenOffice pushes Microsoft Office aside as the leading suite, Google won’t have to worry about all that revenue (35% of MS’ total) subsidizing MS attacks on Google’s core markets.

One Response to “Google – Why not send Google Pack/OpenOffice CDs to everyone?”

  1. Justin Hart Says:
    June 30th, 2006 at 8:37 pm

    I think that I’d follow a slightly different route.

    If you recall, AOL CDs have been the butt of every joke that could be possibly made of them. AOL mastered the art of spamming ones physical mailbox. They may have become an icon, but I don’t really think that they had much to do with AOL’s success (and their success is debatable). AOL had a solid user base from the 2400-baud days where getting Internet content was rather uncommon. They budged and budged until they started selling, essentially, Internet access + content, and, with everyone going to broadband, are now primarily a content provider, and you get their name stuck on your bill if you get Internet access from Time Warner Cable, like I do.

    A better model, in my opinion, is that adopted by Ubuntu Linux. Ubuntu offers their CDs for free, no shipping, no cost. You just put your info in on their website, and they give you one. People here at Cornell have been known to get one and leave it lying in the lab, in case others want to install it, or hand it to their friends, as two of my friends did when I switched from Gentoo to Ubuntu earlier this year.

    It may not get the face recognition that spamming AOL cds does, but it also won’t get you the infamy that AOL has. Also, people are more likely to offer a CD to their friend if it’s slightly more of a rarity than an AOL cd. I don’t think that anybody has ever lent me one of those. They’re not exactly a conversation starter… unless one is cracking a joke about them.