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Why Netbooks Will Soon Cost $99 221

CWmike sends along a ComputerWorld piece which predicts that "netbooks like the Asus Eee PC, the Dell Mini 9 and the HP 2133 Mini-Note will soon cost as little as $99. The catch? You'll need to commit to a two-year mobile broadband contract. The low cost will come courtesy of a subsidy identical to the one you already get with your cell phone. It's likely that HP is working with AT&T (they're reported to be talking), which announced a major strategic shift a couple of weeks ago that should result in AT&T stores selling nonphone gadgets that can take advantage of mobile broadband, including netbooks. What's more interesting is that low income and cheapskate buyers are starting to use iPhones as replacements or substitutes for netbook, notebook and even desktop PCs. The author's take: A very large number of people are increasingly looking to buy a single device — or, at least, subscribe to a single wireless account — for all their computing and communications needs, and at the lowest possible price."
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Why Netbooks Will Soon Cost $99

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  • BInding a single device to a 2-year contract is nuts. Especially a device as limited as a cell phone or netbook.

    The iphone, for example, is very cool, but I'm just not interested at $70/month. Yet I pay more than that for my tv/phone/internet connection at home. I'm OK with that because at home I have flexibility -- I can attach as many phones and computers as I want.

    I'm sticking with my pay-as-you-go, featureless cell phone until there's an expensive contract that gives me a lot more flexibility.

  • Re:where do i sign? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by apathy maybe ( 922212 ) on Saturday November 01, 2008 @08:39AM (#25594079) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, but have you considered you can leave your work in the "cloud" and only downloaded it when you need it?

    Sure you will fill a 30GB HD in a hurry if you keep everything you download, but you don't. You just download it again when you needed it again.

    At least, that's what I would do.

  • Ahh convergence (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LaughingCoder ( 914424 ) on Saturday November 01, 2008 @08:40AM (#25594081)
    I am always fascinated by the twists and turns of the "convergence" of all electronic devices into "the one device that rules them all". For awhile it was looking like the video game console might be the winner. And TIVO was hot for awhile, as were set-top boxes. The PC made a run, but collapsed under their own complexity - the difficulty of trying to be all things. Those all of course both suffered from a lack of portability (notebooks were an attempt to address this) ... enter the PSP. Then smartphones popped on the scene and are probably the current best bet. But now netbooks appear, and there are some compelling reasons why they could displace cell phones as the one device everyone owns and carries. I suppose their two big problems are battery life and size. The smartphones' problems are screen size and interface (keyboard) size. Perhaps when (if) voice recognition finally works and the display-in-glasses becomes viable cell phones could overcome their limitations?

    As a self-professed gadget guy I can say that I carry 3 devices with me always: cell phone, pocket PC and thumbdrive. Sometimes I also carry a Nano if I will be listening to music for a prolonged period (battery issues with the Pocket PC and the cell phone). Here in the states, the smartphones with touchscreens and web browsers and available 3rd party applications require you to sign up for a data contract, the cost of which I cannot justify. The pocket PC has a decent camera, a good music player, a host of games and applications, WiFi, a good size screen ... but it lacks a decent input device, battery life and cell phone functionality.
  • I wonder why they say "soon". In my country they already do this, at at least two mobile phone operators. It seems like a rather logical step to me.

  • by Registered Coward v2 ( 447531 ) on Saturday November 01, 2008 @09:20AM (#25594263)

    Ummm...considering that Asus has done announced they will have a EEE priced at $200 [] next year,why on earth would anyone get screwed with such a long term contract to save $100? Personally I'll wait and see what the $200 Asus looks like.

    At $200 retail it becomes free with contract - which will no doubt be a selling point.

    If it is a decent device (for me, that's a 10" screen, plenty of memory, 16GB SSD or fast HDD, bluetooth) and data service is reasonably priced I'd get one as a laptop replacement.

  • by Carrot007 ( 37198 ) <Carrot007 AT the ... rt DOT co DOT uk> on Saturday November 01, 2008 @09:29AM (#25594311) Homepage

    I cannot understand why anyone would want to pay the mobile companies twice.

    I currently can use my mobile when appropriate but when I need something more I use bletooth to connect my eee to my phone to use it's connection. Yes this does mean paying more on my phone contract but not as much as 2 contracts would be from what I have seen on these plans already. (I'm in the UK they have been selling like this for quite while now)

    Only thing that probably sucks is when it comes time to renew my contract and get a nice shiny new phone there will be no bolt on options and I will be forced to have two contracts to make the mobile companies more money.

    This is not a good thing, the only people who would needa mobile broadband only option are people without a mobile. For the rest it should just be bluetooth or whatever to the mobile phone. Yes I realise the operators in the US try to discourage you from this or ban it on most plans, but that is just bollocks, if i can use the interent on my phone whats the difference if I can connect another device? NOTHING, that's what, it just does not help them rip you off.

  • Re:Frankly (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LaughingCoder ( 914424 ) on Saturday November 01, 2008 @09:32AM (#25594331)
    I agree with one enhancement ... it should connect wirelessly to those devices. I would love to sit down at my desk with my smartphone in my pocket (with gobs of storage inside it) and have it automatically associate (over bluetooth?) with the screen, keyboard, wired or wifi interface, speakers, etc. Basically every workstation/PC would simply be IO devices ... the computation power and data would travel with me in my pocket. I guess for the time being it could physically dock, but that's so 90s -- wireless is the way to go.
  • by Zarf ( 5735 ) on Saturday November 01, 2008 @10:25AM (#25594601) Journal

    Well, when I was living in the EU I thought you guys seemed to be a bit ahead of the US in some ways and behind in others when it came to telecom. It was hard to get what a USican would call good high speed wired service (no cable modems for example and I currently have FTTH/FiOS I couldn't get that in EU).

    I think EU wireless services were more pervasive, better, and made a heck-of-a-lot more sense from a customer perspective.

    So, yeah, mobile phone services in the US are pretty sad by comparison...

  • by Catil ( 1063380 ) * on Saturday November 01, 2008 @10:29AM (#25594627)
    Meanwhile, in Germany...

    Playstation 3 80 GB
    + Asus EeePC 4GB
    + 2x Motorola F3
    for 0 Euro.
    It's bundled with two Vodafon 2-year contracts, respectively for 15,39 Euro monthly. []

    That was one of the first links searching for 'handy (mobile-phone) bundles.' I don't think something like this is very serious. It will perhaps come with a bunch of sleazy clauses in small print. Our consumer advice centre puts out warnings once in a while for this kind of stuff...
  • $100 Linux based MIPS laptops [] are much better but don't have the CPU power of the others. That is the $100 laptop I might buy.

  • Re:Ahh convergence (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Serious Callers Only ( 1022605 ) on Saturday November 01, 2008 @12:41PM (#25595549)

    cell phone, pocket PC and thumbdrive. Sometimes I also carry a Nano

    I carry an iPhone, with a few jailbroken apps, and Air Sharing (as a thumbdrive replacement), which seems to cover all the bases. Haven't found the screen size to be a limitation, save perhaps for reading books. The only area that it's really lacking in is the camera, which is pretty rubbish, but I think I'll always prefer a real camera for that.

    My bet would be on phones (not necessarily the iPhone) as the next convergence device - when we have slightly more power, and ubiquitous wireless keyboards/screens (I hear they're coming just after flying cars), all you'd need would be to plug your phone in and you'd have the equivalent of a desktop system of yesteryear.

  • Low income. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Simple-Simmian ( 710342 ) on Saturday November 01, 2008 @05:53PM (#25597847) Journal

    You are so right.

    Where I live 50,000 a year plus benefits is not low income it's middle class.

    I barely use my current cellphone and I would be getting a cut in Internet speed and bandwidth cap if I switched to a wireless account.

  • by wikinerd ( 809585 ) on Saturday November 01, 2008 @08:04PM (#25598767) Journal

    There is a problem here, in that the mobile phone network operators have a very different philosophy than computer manufacturers.

    Network operators are used to sell a service, and they see the device just as a necesary evil in order to sell the service. The effect of this is that most devices they sell tend to be locked-down, not transparent to the user, and stripped off of unwanted functionality (my PDA clamshell came with lots of software, for web browsing, for email, for many things, even many things I didn't really need, except the one thing I really needed most which I had to install myself and was one of the reasons for wanting a PDA in the first place: a python interpreter that I could use to hack around while waiting in the queue in the bank).

    Yet computers in the epic 1980s era always included at least a programming language as a standard offering. Literally, even users who didn't know how to program had a programming language sitting in their ROM, floppies, or hard disk, because computer manufacturers (in that era, at least) were used to sell a kind of machine which is not very useful without a programming language built-in: the general programmable computer. Many machines from that era even booted up directly into a programming environment which was inseparable from the operating system.

    After the heroic epoch of 1980s, PC clones dominated the market and Microsoft (but Apple also has to bear responsibility here) popularised a different philosophy: that the user is not supposed to know how to program and that they should be made to learn how to program in order to use a computer. Computer manufacturers started packaging computers with the idea that what they sell is not a computer per se but rather just a platform to run applications.

    But even in the applications era it was easy to get into programming because, after all, the programming language could be installed as an application and used like any ordinary program. Therefore, the amateur tinkering (hacking, and I mean nothing bad by this word, it is the crackers who do bad things) spirit did not die, because those who felt the urge were able to find and set up a programming environment quickly.

    At some point a great threat to the applications era appeared while the media and entertainment industry started moving into computing with technologies like the DVD: it was the combination of digital restrictions management (DRM) and treacherous computing (some people say "trusted", but one has to wonder how you can trust a computer that refuses to obey you). The philosophy of selling computers was threatened to turn from "selling application platforms" (after it was already shifted from the 1980s "selling general programmable computers") to the evil "selling platforms for specific/allowed applications only". This threat is still alive, but unfortunately now a second threat is appearing.

    The second threat to the "selling platforms for applications" is, again, twofold: part of the threat comes from the rise of cloud computing, and another part from the entry of mobile telephony network operators into computing with such arrangements as bundling a netbook with a service plan. These developments threaten to change the philosophy of selling computers to "selling platforms for services". Computers will not be seen as application platforms anymore, not even as platforms for "trusted" applications. If this threat materialises, computers will be seen simply as devices needed to access a service, whether this service is mobile telephony, weather reports, stock market news, cloud-based word processing, video delivery, or email. Users in the future will forget the notion of application, just as most of them have forgot the notion of general programmable computer now. They will only know computers as windows (pun intented) that give them access to a service.

    There is really no reason to believe that netbooks sold bundled with service plans by mobile phone network companies will resemble the netbooks we now know. Now they

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 01, 2008 @08:36PM (#25598983)
    I'm not sure if it's still the case, but you used to hear about very poor people trying to be the latest sneakers every season. Those shoes were well over $100 and the style changed every year, so you could tell who had the old ones. It always seemed so wrong to me in so many ways. I've heard that cell phones are like that now. Before the iPhone there was another must have teen phone. I can't remember what it was, but it was far more expensive than the phones I buy and I'm a nerd with a very comfortable income.

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