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Summary:

I am a big fan of USB drives as Port-a-PC, and have liked what U3 has done in the space. [ Never mind, they haven't done anything for Mac population.... or maybe they know we don't leave home without it (PowerBooks!) ] And now U3 is […]

I am a big fan of USB drives as Port-a-PC, and have liked what U3 has done in the space. [ Never mind, they haven't done anything for Mac population.... or maybe they know we don't leave home without it (PowerBooks!) ] And now U3 is going to bundle Yahoo! toolbar with U3 smart drives. The toolbar will work with Mozilla Firefox browser for U3. [ I wonder how much it cost Yahoo for this!] However, the really big news is that U3 powered USB drives will have office suites from OpenOffice.org and ThinkFree. Most of these will be available for download, and on new USB drives from Clever-Stuff, PQI, TwinMOS and SanDisk.

  1. I can’t decide if this is just a minor annoyance or if it feels like I’m paying for advertising. Either way, I’d prefer to have my USB thumdrives empty.

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  2. eric, not sure i am understanding the point you are making. you are saying that, that you don’t want the drives with anything on it? i think those you can buy for a lot cheaper; and this is clearly a different market opportunity

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  3. Perhaps I’m confused. What I had infered was that the next time I went to Best Buy or Circuit City (or, more likely newegg.com) and bought a USB thumbdrive that it was going to be loaded with a bunch of software.

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  4. i don’t think that is the case. i think there are some drives that are u3 powered. most of the usb drives are still sold as they are… blank

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  5. I’m with Eric here. This benefits U3 clearly, but how does it help the consumer get bundled programs that are already free for download? This is like how a consumer PC comes with AOL or MSN pre-installed. Now if the U3 drives are actually cheaper, thanks to incentives from the software guys, I’m down with that.

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  6. I tend to like the model these guys ( http://stickydrive.com/ ) are starting to pursue. It’s stick-specific functionality (not just generic apps) you can download onto any stick you choose.

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  7. I’d have to agree with Jesse and Eric — I’ve used a U3 drive, and while it’s cool to have a menu of what’s on the stick and some apps bundled, most of them (or something similar) can be downloaded for free, so I’m not sure I see the point. The PC bundled with AOL analogy is a good one.

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  8. i agree, that most of the apps are available for free, and U3 really is doing nothing more than make it easier to use for a tiny fee, which actually doesn’t really raise the price of the final product that much. so perhaps that’s why I think for a mass market it is not such a bad product. i am thinking non-geeks especially in places where many people use a single machine. like cyber cafes in places like india.

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  9. That’s a fair point, and I thought the same thing — that there is some value to bundling things and making it easy for non-techies. But then I wondered how many non-geeks would be likely to feel comfortable using a USB key and various bundled apps in the first place. In other words, it might be a chicken-and-egg problem, where you need a certain level of geekness (geek-itude?) to appreciate the device, which then means you’re less likely to want it, if you know what I mean.

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  10. You can get OpenOffice.org to be portable if you have a U3 drive:
    http://software.u3.com/Product_Details.aspx?ProductId=109

    Or for any drive (thumbdrive, iPod, portable hard drive):
    http://portableapps.com/apps/office/suites/portable_openoffice

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