Might the Windows 7 EU Internet Explorer decision turn out to be an own-goal for Opera?

You’ve probably heard the expression craplets. That’s one euphemism for all of those annoying little applications and pieces of trial software that seem to be included with new computers that you buy either from the local electronics superstore or over the Internet. OEMs and the superstores don’t put these pieces of software on new computers because they’ve got nothing else to do. Often each of the trialware’s vendors has paid a small fee to the superstore or OEM to get their software included with each computer that ships out the door. Trialware works for the trialware vendor because enough people go on to purchase the full product that they make their money back.

Lets think how this model might apply to browsers. Web browsers are free. You don’t use a trial version and then upgrade to the full version at cost, so at the moment it doesn’t make any sense for web browser vendors to pay OEMs and electronics superstores to include non-Microsoft browsers. It isn’t as though they will make their money back with a sale.

But the situation has changed and the market for adding a browser has just opened up. Does anyone really think that the OEMs and electronics superstores are going to put browsers on new computers running Windows 7 in the EU market out of the goodness of their hearts? Or are they going to approach it like all other software that gets added on top of the default operating system image and charge a fee for inclusion?

Google certainly has the financial resources to ensure that Chrome ships with every new Windows 7 PC in the EU, but what incentives can the makers of Firefox and Opera offer OEMs and electronics superstores to include their browsers? If Firefox and Opera (or any of the other of the multitude of browsers out there) want to get on PCs that ship out the door, they are going to have to come to terms with the craplet economy.

Suddenly these companies are going to be paying people to use something that they currently get for free.

Of course OEMs and vendors might set things up so that IE, Chrome, Firefox and Opera are included for free – but if there is a couple of bucks to be made out of it, they’d be crazy not to try and get a piece of the action.

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