Rumour mill: Vodafone and Orange to be first with smartbooks

The market for the newly announced smartbook category of handheld-devices will be ‘connected-youth', and operators in Europe are being touted as among the first to bring them into the retail channel.

While details remain unclear which OS smartbooks will use, the device concept is apparently being strongly promoted by some of the largest multinational mobile operators in Europe. With Vodafone and Orange being rumoured as the most likely, one, or both of these firms, plan to pioneer the marketing of smartbooks at the early-adopter youth market, in particular those interested in entertainment services and staying connected to social networking sites.

Terry Yen, VP of product marketing for CDMA technology at Qualcomm, spoke exclusively to FierceWirelessEurope about how the success of this new device category was dependent upon the support of the big operators.

"We expect to see the first smartbooks being promoted by European operators late this year, or early 2010," said Yen. "These operators will look for smartbooks to attract a new, connected-youth market to provide a boost to data ARPUs. They've already seen the positive impact that 3G dongles and netbooks can have on their data revenues, and are looking for smartbooks to appeal to a new segment of the market."

The first smartbooks are expected to appear late this year or early in 2010 using CPU technology developed by Qualcomm. According to the firm, its Snapdragon processor will be key to differentiating smartbooks from today's netbooks and smartphones. "The extended battery life, touchscreens and the ability to run concurrent applications will make smartbooks very appealing. It's the next market segment for the larger European operators to address."

According to Yen, these operators are developing new pricing plans to make these always-connected devices open up a presently untapped user segment. "This is a natural evolution for operators looking to add to their existing handset portfolio."

Yen claimed that 15 OEMs had agreed to use the Snapdragon processor to build smartbook devices, and he confidently expected to see a wide mix of form factors.


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Netbooks vs. smartbooks: what are the similarities and differences?
Qualcomm's smartbook play--do we need another device category?