Virgin becomes a player with Webplayer offer

First 10,000 get free 'Net device

Following in the footsteps of FreePC and Gobi, Virgin Entertainment Group announced Monday that it will give away 10,000 Virgin-branded “Webplayers” to consumers who are willing to have their usage monitored and receive targeted advertisements.

The Webplayer consists of a 56K modem, a wireless keyboard and a flat screen that allow users to surf the Internet and send e-mail. Internet Appliance Network is manufacturing the hardware.

“We are thrilled to give our customers instant Internet access via the Webplayer, providing them with a cutting-edge device to seek out a variety of products, services and information,” said Glen Ward, president and CEO of Virgin Entertainment Group.

Ads based on survey

Consumers may apply to receive a Webplayer by filling out an application at www.virginconnectme.com. The survey asks users about everything from travel habits to magazine subscriptions, and the responses to these questions will determine the kinds of ads pushed to the users.

According to the privacy policy listed on the site, Virgin will not share information that can be used to identify the user to any third parties.

An ‘integrated’ solution

“As companies struggle to rise above the din online, it’s clear that new solutions are needed to create direct and lasting relationships with online consumers,” said Audrey Parma, president of IAN. “By working with IAN, brands don’t have to pull together all the different pieces of technology and services to build their own e-marketing solution. We’ve assembled a best-of-breed integrated solution with leading technology companies and service providers that we believe is the ideal e-marketing path.”

Use of Webplayer is free for the first year for the first 10,000 people who are accepted to receive the device. After that, the cost is $50 a year under a three-year rent-to-own agreement, provided that the user spends at least 10 hours each month online.

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