Rumour mill: Orange close to Apple laptop mobile broadband deal

With its iPhone exclusivity agreement already in tatters, Orange is hoping to refresh its image by being the first European mobile operator to strike a deal to resell Apple laptops bundled with a 3G dongle. If successful, and it is thought Orange is at a stage to place a volume commitment to Apple, then Orange will subsidise the laptop and bundle the Apple Macbook with a two-year mobile broadband package.

However, it seems unlikely, given the high cost of Macbooks in relation to Wintel netbooks, that Orange will be able to provide subscribers with a "free" Macbook, as is the case with other netbook mobile broadband offers. Some observers have speculated Orange might subsidise the Macbook to between €400 and €500 with the user paying the excess.

The Macbook offer, which is expected to become available by this summer, would be available only through Orange's direct channels. But Orange executives are hoping this laptop agreement will be the trigger to securing a deal for future Apple laptops, which include built-in mobile broadband from an embedded SIM card. Those that closely follow Apple believe the company is developing a much smaller, low cost laptop--something much nearer to today's netbooks, that could become available later this year.

For more on this story:
Mobile Today, Slash Gear and PC Retailing

Related stories:
Rumour mill: O2 and Apple hatch MacBook plan
New laptop bundles announced by Orange--including unlimited downloads
Strong consumer demand for single source cellphone/laptop provider, says Orange
Orange runs out of laptops, now offers free broadband deal

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