Rogers takes a light touch with new netbook subsidy

Canadian wireless carrier Rogers announced it will sell a Compaq netbook for $300 with a two-year service plan. The announcement comes just days after Sprint Nextel debuted almost the exact same machine for 99 cents with a two-year contract. The actions yet again highlight the nascent but potentially explosive market for scaled-down laptops.

Rogers said the HP Mini 110 netbook will be available exclusively at Future Shop and Best Buy stores across Canada. The device will support the carrier's HSPA network and features up to 1 GB of memory and a 160 GB hard drive. Wireless data plans by Rogers start at $25 a month--plus a $6.95 system access fee and other fees--for 500 MB of data.

Earlier this week, Best Buy unveiled a netbook offer on its website--though it's only available at participating Best Buy retail stores--for a Compaq Mini 110c-1040DX netbook for 99 cents with a two-year Sprint contract for mobile data, which typically runs at $60 per month. Best Buy is offering the same netbook with service from AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless, as well as without a service contract--thereby providing a clear view into each carrier's netbook subsidy. The Compaq Mini sells for $389.99 without a service contract, or for $199.99 with a two-year contract with either AT&T or Verizon. Thus, the nation's two largest carriers are doling out around $189 in subsidies, while Sprint is forking over the full cost of the device in hopes of attracting monthly subscribers.

Rogers, it seems, is content to subsidize the cost of the device by around $89 over two years.

That wireless carriers are getting into the netbook game comes as little surprise. Research firm IDC last month revised upwards by 20 percent its forecast for global netbook shipments for this year. The firm now expects shipments of 26.4 million netbooks this year, up from a previous forecast of 22 million shipments.

For more:
- see this release
- see this Reuters article

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