As rumors of iPad subsidies becoming available from U.S. carriers this year gain momentum, The Times reports that similar strategies in the U.K. do not appear to be paying off in the short term. Orange, T-Mobile and Three each recently began offering discounts on the iPad Wi-Fi + 3G when purchased alongside a new service contract. The 16 GB iPad model, which typically costs £529 in the U.K., is available for just £199 when purchased with a £25-per-month data plan. While sales performance at T-Mobile and Three is still a bit of a mystery, The Times reports that Orange sold just 1,000 subsidized iPads during the first week of availability. The sales figure has not been confirmed by Orange, but if it is anywhere near accurate it could indicate that customers don’t have much interest in signing up for yet another data contract — especially one tied to a device that is anything but a commodity at this point. More →
We’ve just received firm confirmation that Verizon Wireless’ first netbook offering — the HP Mini 1151NR — is currently starting to touch down in stores across the country. We first scooped it in February and then confirmed the model in March so the only thing left to tell you, of course, is the launch date. Mark it down in your calendars folks: May 17th via all channels; the same day Verizon’s MiFi personal hotspot drops. Pricing isn’t yet appearing in Big Red’s system but we’re hearing it will be $199 with a 2-year contract after MIR. Of course some people will jump right into complaining and adding up monthly fees ($40 or $60/month), saying that this isn’t a good deal. It’s true — you’ll end up spending between $960 and $1,440 over your 2-year contract period for data access. To those people, we suggest buying a comparable netbook with an integrated data card ($450ish) or a comparable data-less netbook ($300ish) and a USB modem/data card off contract ($250ish). Then pay, yeah, $40 or $60 every month for data anyway.
If you followed our coverage of MWC this past week, odds are you were just as unimpressed with Acer’s showing as we were. To recap quickly, the company announced a handful of Windows Mobile handsets that were decent efforts but offered nothing in the way of innovation or even differentiation. Touchscreens, Windows Mobile, a UI band-aid, etc. According to a report from PCMag however, our interest in Acer’s new gear may have just been kicked up a notch. What did the trick? A single word — “free”. The report quotes Aymar de Lencquesaing, President of Acer’s Smartphone Unit, as stating the company is working with AT&T and T-Mobile to offer its handsets for free on contract in the US.
While it remains true that none of Acer’s newly-unveiled handsets are smartphones we would actively seek out, the free element completely changes things. As US carrier interest in netbooks continues to increase, Acer plans to use its position in the netbook market as leverage to gain carrier adoption of its smartphones. Smooth. If Acer can indeed manage to pull it off and hock its smartphone wares in the US with no upfront cost, a whole new demographic would have access to fairly well-equipped smartphones – good news all around. Of course we would expect Acer’s Windows Mobile 6.1-powered Tempo line to be the only range of handsets that might come in for free any time soon, with choices from its C1, E1, F1 and L1 possibly being introduced further down the line as Windows Mobile 6.5 handsets begin to launch. Would any of you get reeled in by a Tempo with a $0 entry fee?
[Via Unwired View]
It’s official people, the subsidized netbook from RadioShack we saw appear on a leaked ad earlier this week has been officially announced. This offer definitely isn’t for the casual user as it is accompanied by a 2-year minimum-$60/month contract with AT&T, but business users with a true need for constant connectivity can now save their companies some cash be snagging a well-specced Acer Aspire One netbook for a cool $100 from the Shack. Specs:
- Ultra-compact size measuring 9.8″ x 6.7″ x 1.1″ (W x D x H), 2.44 pounds
- Stylish piano-black finish
- Built-in 3G capability
- 802.11b/g wireless (Wi-Fi)
- 8.9-inch LCD screen
- Built-in Web cam
- Intel(R) Atom(TM) processor
- Windows XP Home
- 1GB memory
- 160GB hard drive
- Built-in memory card readers (dedicated SD and 5-in-1)
In terms of a travel machine, the Aspire One definitely delivers the goods and provides more than enough juice in a package weighing less than 2 1/2 pounds. Let’s hope this is a first step toward a new trend of subsidized connected netbooks that we can look forward to. The bottom line is that if you’re in the market for a new portable unit and a 3G modem with a $60+ monthly plan were in your cards anyway, you’d be crazy not to check out the Aspire One.