Subsidized Laptops With Locked In Wireless Broadband Contracts

from the good-or-bad? dept

A few years back, after noting the trend of laptop companies to start building in cellular data modems into their laptops, we wondered when it would reach the stage where mobile operators would subsidize the cost of a laptop, just as they subsidize the cost of mobile phones in many cases. In early 2006, we started to see such subsidized laptops go on sale in Europe, with the mobile operators selling the laptops directly for well below list price, as long as you bought into a long term data plan. The whole idea seemed a bit strange, as mobile operators have long ranted long and hard about how much they hate, hate, hate subsidies, and how they wish they could do away with them. So, why add them to laptops?

However, the idea has now traveled over to the US as well, in a deal between Acer, Radio Shack and AT&T allowing people to buy an Acer netbook for just $100, so long as they agree to a 2 year $60/month contract for an AT&T mobile data plan. It's still a little confusing as to why the mobile operators are agreeing to this, following so many vehement arguments against mobile phone subsidies, but perhaps they're finally realizing that those subsidies aren't such a bad thing when they get people using their services. Still, how long will it be until buyers start complaining about early termination fees for laptops like they do for mobile phones?

Filed Under: contracts, netbooks, subsidies, wireless broadband
Companies: acer, at&t, radio shack


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Dec 2008 @ 7:25am

    I love stupid people

    If you read the linked article, and the comments after it, one of their biggest complaints is that you end up paying $1540 for a $350 laptop, and that they don't see why anyone would do that. If you use their math then even someone who selects the absolute lowest package is paying $1680 for an 8GB 3G IPhone ($3800 if they want unlimited everything). Now what kind of moron would pay $3800 for an IPhone? They completely ignore the fact that you get a service that normally costs $60 per month (note that $10 a month unlimited data plans are for cell phones, not laptops) included with your $60 per month payments. So, if you are going to get the data card anyways, this is a great way to save $250 on a netbook. It looks like a great deal to me.

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