Will operators some day regret their emerging tendency to follow the cell phone model and give away notebook computers for free?
This week saw yet another notebook promotion from the UK operator, Orange, which gives customers a HP notebook that run on its HSDPA network as well as WiFi, at no cost if a wireless data service bundle is purchased. Several HP notebooks are available. The products are targeted to small and medium size businesses. The rate plan includes a data allowance of 5 GB per month and 500 WiFi minutes per month, which can be used at more than 10,000 hot spots in the UK. The notebooks, which include the HP6735s, the 6730s and 6730b, are loaded with Microsoft Windows Vista Business software. Depending on the service bundle purchased, the laptop could come with embedded HSDPA or a USB modem. Service prices with a two-year contract range from (US)$64 to $82.
Several European operators, including Orange, have already begun selling subsidized laptops in certain markets and announcements along these lines are becoming more frequent. Last week, Vodafone said it will begin selling Dell's new HSDPA-equipped Inspirion Mini 9 notebook under an exclusive arrangement with Dell that is expected, though so far not announced, to provide subsidies for consumers. The U.S. market has yet to exhibit a trend in this direction. It will be interesting to see if domestic operators adopt this practice too for certain wireless broadband-enabled products, especially since they often lament having created the U.S. mobile phone market to be dependent on these types of deals.
- see Mobile Today
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Should operators subsidize laptops?