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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Embedded-3G notebooks - a quick update

Since my post on the Telco 2.0 blog about the hype around embedded-3G notebooks, I've been closely scrutinising ongoing developments in the area.

I'd say things are playing out pretty much as I expected.

Keith McMahon - who is much more bullish on this trend than me - pointed out a report that Toshiba is expecting to embed 3G across its range of business notebooks, in Europe at least. I suspect that not all such devices will actually ship with 3G modules - otherwise various corporate IT departments not wishing to enable HSPA access for all employees will be busy with their screwdrivers, and there will be lots of unused modules appearing on eBay.

Conversely, Apple's recent MacBook launches were conspicuous in their lack of any mention of mobile broadband at all. Many Mac fans are not entirely gruntled by this. However, the ever-present Apple rumour-mill has been whispering about WiMAX coming soon, though.

HP is sitting firmly on the fence, announcing that its new netbooks will come with "optional" WWAN modules - which tallies with my view that embeddable rather than actually embedded by default is the way the market will go in 2009.

AT&T is reported to be subsidising built-in 3G in Lenovo notebooks to the tune of $150. Given the recent hit that AT&T has taken on acquiring (and subsidising) iPhones, I wonder if they'll be giving module-supplier Ericsson (among the keenest of proponents of the concept) a nudge to underwrite some of the costs.

And just by way of a "mystery shopper" test, I asked the manager of my local (large) branch of Carphone Warehouse about 3G notebooks. CPW, for those readers outside the UK, is aggressively targetting the notebook market, with large in-store displays of "free" laptops and netbooks tied to either fixed-DSL or 3G contracts, on a variety of mobile operators and its own home broadband. He said he'd heard about this approach (as he should, as a Vodafone shop selling Dell Mini 9's is only about 50 metres away), but seemed pretty vague and unexcited by the prospect of it appearing in his store any time soon.

And lastly, a tidbit for anyone who's bothered to read this far. For 2009, I'm forecasting 10.9 million shipments of WWAN-embedded PCs.

If you want to see similar forecasts out to 2014, as well as predictions for MIDs, and also installed-base and actual subscriber figures, you'll be wanting to purchase a copy of the new Mobile Broadband Computing research report. Register your interest with me at information AT disruptive-analysis.com , and I'll send you a free summary as soon as it's published.

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