Recently I went on a fairly lengthy rant about Nokia and AT&T's new netbook alliance. Nokia will start selling its first PC through Best Buy on October 22nd. The Booklet 3G will go for $299 with a two year AT&T contract at $60 a month. Without the contract, it's a cool $599.
Today, I feel the need to go a step further and rant about the business model itself and the bigger picture.
AT&T didn't pull these price points out of the air; more like Verizon's web site. This is pretty much what Verizon is charging for a HP netbook, as well. As I pointed out yesterday, I paid $330 for my HP Mini. If I had more money than sense, I could have paid just under $600 for virtually the same PC if I had bought it through Verizon (or better yet, $1750-ish if I had gone for the teaser price and the 24 month contract).
For the past couple of years, netbooks have been selling like hotcakes. While laptop sales have looked like typewriter sales figures by comparison and abacus sales have been mopping the floor with desktop sales; truly, the only bright spot in the PC industry during this perfect storm known as "Mr. Economy-meet- Mr. Vista" has been the netbook.
So why have people been snapping up netbooks? Answer: because they've been snappable.
I snapped up mine one weekend after my six year old killed my laptop (I prefer not to discuss the details - too painful!) and I needed a cheap, fast, no-brainer PC replacement.
I would not have done the same if it had required a marriage contract with my mobile service provider. That's not a fast solution. It's a slow bleed off my bank account and I have enough of those. I love my netbook, but it's not a $60 a month kind of love; especially when I can just tether it to my $30-a-month data plan smartphone to get online when I'm out and about.
My concern is that PC makers (Nokia now being one of them; how weird is that!) will take the easy money cutting deals with the mobile service providers. Let AT&T, Verizon, etc. do their sales and marketing for them!
The telcos in return will demand that their business model be the only business model. Their business model dictates that netbooks should be priced like smartphones. Up until now, they've been priced to undersell full-sized laptops.
I see the future and its not pretty.
Wouldn't it be nice if the reverse happened instead. Let PC makers sell smartphones priced like the low-end PC's that they are.
I know, I know; it would also be nice if the IRS went away, too. A geek can dream.
Okay, it took me two days; but I am now stepping down off my soapbox.