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Netbooks to propel mobile broadband uptake

Posted: 26 May 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:netbook? mobile broadband? mobile PC?

A new study by Pyramid Research reported that the increased sales of netbooks over the next three to five years will result in higher demand for mobile broadband services, driven by the emerging trend of bundling the low-end computers with mobile data services from specific network operators.

The report entitled Mobile Broadband for the Masses: The Case for Bundled Netbooks analyzes the business case behind bundling netbooks with broadband access for both operators and OEMs, discusses key performance indicators delivered by those operators that have embraced the use of netbooks, and assesses the value they have been able to extract from netbook sales. The 54-page report looks at the early examples of netbook bundles targeting students and examines the potential for netbook bundle sales in the markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Netbooks are just beginning to gain market traction; about 13 million were sold worldwide in 2008, with 10 million of those sales coming in 2H, global economic crisis notwithstanding, noted Cristiano Laux, manager of consulting at Pyramid and coauthor of the report. "Bundles of these machines with Internet access are set to become a bread-and-butter offering for operators in developed and emerging markets alike, exceeding sales of notebook computers in the operator channel by 2010," says Laux.

While many operators are already supporting the business case for netbook bundles, OEMs are not happy about the downward pressure on laptop prices and the cannibalization that netbooks may have on the sales of high-end notebooks. "For now, they have agreed to live with the threat, fearing that without netbooks, the recession would hit computer sales even more than it has done already," Laux says.

Pyramid recommended that OEMs and broadband operators should do what they can to support netbook sales. "There is growing evidence that netbooks are catching on with the under-21 crowd; if that trend develops, the adoption rate for netbooks could accelerate even more, which means these cheap and approachable devices could have a huge impact on how network operators make money off their services," explained Laux. Netbooks will also help accelerate mobile broadband adoption among low-income customers and in emerging markets. "In the lower-income countries of Asia/Pacific, the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America, most of the incremental impact from netbook sales will be seen only when the price of mobile PCs declines below $350, but this is expected to happen in late 2009, with mass-market shipments picking up during 2010," he said.

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