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Summary:

The recent rise in the popularity and availability of netbooks has led some wireless carriers to package the computers at significant discounts for customers who purchase subscriptions. According to a recent report by Lisa Thompson, a tech research analyst with firm JRPG, Apple may be in […]

The recent rise in the popularity and availability of netbooks has led some wireless carriers to package the computers at significant discounts for customers who purchase subscriptions. According to a recent report by Lisa Thompson, a tech research analyst with firm JRPG, Apple may be in talks to work out a similar deal with O2, a U.K.-based wireless provider.

A subsidized laptop offering from Apple would help alleviate complaints arising from the October 14 event that pricing on their new notebooks remained too high. Thompson also thinks that Apple is keen to avoid a netbook, as it might cannibalize MacBook sales, so discounting an existing product through a third-party allows them to essentially have their cake and eat it too.

The model to be discounted is thought to be the $999 entry-level white MacBook, a likely choice because it would require a much smaller subsidy than any of the new aluminum models. Many other computer manufacturers, like Dell and Asus, currently offer netbook/subscription packages with wireless carriers like the one proposed between Apple and O2, though such bundles have failed to attract much interest in North America.

O2 is already the exclusive carrier of the iPhone in the U.K., making it the natural choice for a laptop subsidy partnership. Vodafone and Orange currently offer netbooks bundled with mobile broadband subscriptions in the U.K. Vodafone has both £25 and a £30 per month plans, offering 1GB and 3GB of data transfer, each of which includes an Inspiron Mini, free of charge. Orange offers 3GB at £25 per month, and throws in an Eee PC 900 (WinXP, 16GB SSD) for no further cost. Both providers require a two year minimum subscription to get the free hardware. If Apple does go ahead and offer a similar deal in partnership with O2, expect similar monthly pricing and bandwidth limits, and not free, but deeply discounted hardware.

Would you sign a contract to pick up an Apple notebook for a low initial cost? Or are mobile broadband bundles just another example of the cheap razor/expensive blades school of marketing misdirection?

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  1. This would be great for me if I was already using or had a reason to use the mobile broadband service here. However as things stand I simply use my iPhone for any online access needs I have while I’m on the go and then connect my MacBook to wireless when I get where I’m going.

    It would be nice to see Apple move into this retail option as it would introduce some people to Mac that would never consider it before due to a high buy in price.

  2. Filipe Miguel Tavares Monday, October 20, 2008

    Apple has been doing that in Portugal for a long time, even before it had an official presence there (here), although in a special program that gives discounts to university students.

  3. Darrell Etherington Monday, October 20, 2008

    Filipe: How much are the computers discounted? Apple has long offered educational discounts worldwide, but usually those come as about $100 price cuts, not true subsidies along the lines of the Eee PC and Inspiron Mini deals.

  4. pcworld.co.uk have been doing this sort of thing for about a year now you can get a discount on any laptop if you sign up to mobile broadband. Of course you do have to buy a laptop from pcworld to take advantage of it (they don’t have the best reputation for support)

  5. Rumor: Apple to sell subsidized notebooks in the UK? – AAPL Blog – News about Apple Inc. Monday, October 20, 2008

    [...] — rumor has it (that crazy rumor always has something, doesn’t it?) that Apple may start selling subsidized MacBooks in the UK, with O2 including the notebooks with their wireless plans. Quite a proposal — the idea, of [...]

  6. Apple rumored (again) to sell subsidized notebooks in the UK | Technology News Monday, October 20, 2008

    [...] The rumor was sparked by a report from Lisa Thompson, an analyst with research boutique JRPG, in which Apple was “believed” to be in talks with O2 (a British wireless carrier) to sell subsidized Macbook computers. It works like phones: you pay a bit less on the spot, but the carrier makes more money on your subscription by the longer-term. It works for phones (especially the iPhone), so it might work with Macbooks to a lesser extent, even whether the “need” for a mobile broadband access is relatively small, compared to the “need” of having a fancy phone. By the way, O2 denied similar reports back in September. [via theappleblog] [...]

  7. O2 to sell subsidized MacBooks? – MAC.BLORGE Monday, October 20, 2008

    [...] quoting JRPG analyst Lisa Thompson, Barrons (via The Apple Blog) reports that Apple is believed to be negotiating with the UK’s O2 to sell subsidized [...]

  8. Subsized Macbooks may be sold in the UK? » Monday, October 20, 2008

    [...] has it (that crazy rumor always has something, doesn’t it?) that Apple may start selling subsidized MacBooks in the UK, with O2 including the notebooks with their wireless plans. Quite a proposal — the idea, of [...]

  9. Apple Rumored To Sell Subsidized Notebooks In The Uk | Laptops, Desktop PC & Tablet PC | Tech Lime Tuesday, October 21, 2008

    [...] Download This News As PDF SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: “Apple Rumored To Sell Subsidized Notebooks In The Uk”, url: “http://techlime.com/laptops-desktop-tablet-pc/apple-rumored-to-sell-subsidized-notebooks-in-the-uk” }); Email This News [...]

  10. Rumor: Apple to sell subsidized notebooks in the UK? Tuesday, October 21, 2008

    [...] has it (that crazy rumor always has something, doesn’t it?) that Apple may start selling subsidized MacBooks in the UK, with O2 including the notebooks with their wireless plans. Quite a proposal — the idea, of [...]

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