While Yahoo! was busy putting the finishing touches to its new co-operation with eBay, Google has not been idle, but has clinched a spectacular deal of its own.
As announced last Thursday, Google and Dell have agreed to a trial that will see Dell pre-install a suite of Google software onto each PC before it leaves their factories. The software package will include the Google toolbar, a pre-set Dell-Google co-branded homepage and search applications for desktop and email search.
Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt indicated that this was only the start of the co-operation between Dell and Google, with more agreements still to come.
For Microsoft, this could be a significant blow. The company knows exactly how effective pre-installation of software is in increasing market share – they did exactly the same when they bundled Internet Explorer with the Microsoft Office packages and crushed Netscape in the now legendary browser wars. The strategy is effective because computer users tend to be fairly passive and leave pre-installed desktop preferences exactly as they are when they unpack their new computer or laptop.
The Dell deal means that Google is able to influence user habits even before they go online for the first time, which is something they haven’t been able to do up to now. And with how many users can Google get a foot in the door early? Well, industry speculation has it that the deal could cover up to 100 million computers!