I’m still not sold on the whole netbook subsidy deal, but if you are and you want AT&T to provide 3G connectivity to your mobile computer, this is good news. In April, the carrier was testing subsidized netbooks in Atlanta as well as my Philadelphia backyard. It must have proved a positive experiment because AT&T is expanding the option nationwide in the near future. The company plans to expand the netbook model choices, but details aren’t available yet.
I don’t really have an issue with the subsidy model; after all, I’ve taken advantage of it time and again with my smartphone purchases. However, those devices are different because people generally have one primary phone that requires data. Yes, there are exceptions to that, but netbooks are different. They’re really intended as companion devices, not primary ones. And I think it’s far more likely for someone to own or use more computers than phones in a given time period. Having the wireless connectivity bundled with a netbook is convenient, but what do you when you want to use a different computer on the road and you’ve left your 3G service behind with your netbook?
The tech-savvy will find ways to use their 3G phone for data service on a computer or they’ll share the 3G connection from their netbook using software. Perhaps they’ll buy one bit of hardware that can easily share the 3G connection with several devices. This notion that each of our “cheap” devices needs its own dedicated costly 3G connection is lost on me personally.