Taking The Mobile Phone Business Model To Laptops
from the good-luck-with-that dept
Wireless carriers have made it pretty standard to offer mobile phones at a steep discount for users who sign up for a long-term contract. Would the same idea work for laptops and their wireless connections? Vodafone is trying to test out that theory in Europe by offering a laptop with a (cellular) wireless connection all for a monthly fee. They think that small businesses will be interested in this because it avoids the large upfront fee for the computer and includes the wireless service. Of course, there are a few problems with this theory. First, most major computer companies already offer leasing terms – which solves the big upfront fee problem. Second, a mobile phone is useless without a service contract. That’s not true for a laptop, where there are many options on how it can connect to the internet. In fact, for most small businesses, they’ll probably expect their employees to mostly connect at the office, or at home. While there may be a few (mostly field sales) employees who need wireless access, is it really worth buying the entire laptop based on the wireless service contract? This becomes even more of an issue because the best wireless data connection for laptops is likely to be changing at a pretty rapid rate over the next few years as well. WiFi hotspots are expanding, WiMax is coming, different (faster, better) cellular standards are emerging. It seems pretty silly to lock yourself into a wireless data plan for a laptop when you have no idea if it will be the best offering just a few months from now.