Verizon ready to hawk Netbooks?

Sources tell both TheStreet.com and Bloomberg that the wireless provider has at least two different models it plans to sell bundled with service in the near future.

Verizon Wireless is poised to sell at least one Netbook in the next few months, according to reports in Bloomberg and TheStreet.com.

Both outlets cite unnamed sources, but Bloomberg's source, said to be someone close to the project at Verizon, says a partnership is being negotiated with more than one PC maker. No word on what the service contract for a Netbook from Verizon would entail.

Verizon Netbook
Is Verizon getting ready to sell 3G-enabled Netbooks? Dell

Currently, Verizon doesn't sell a 3G-enabled Netbook, but chief rival AT&T does. AT&T sells Acer Netbooks for $99 with service through RadioShack, and also sells Dell Mini Inspirons through the wireless provider's Web site. Though Verizon isn't confirming the report, a move to sell Netbooks is widely seen as a way to keep up with its rival.

The report suggests Verizon is working with more than one PC vendor, and Dell seems like an obvious candidate as one of them, though a Dell representative did not have an immediate comment. Dell already has a relationship with Verizon parent company Vodafone , which has sold Dell Netbooks in Europe since September 2008.

So who could be the other Netbook maker? A similar rumor floated around the Web last week regarding HP hooking up with Verizon. HP had no comment, but provided a statement from Kevin Frost, HP's general manager of consumer notebooks: "It's natural for carriers the world over to be interested in HP's broad portfolio of thin and light minis. We are talking with carriers all over the world. We are talking with carriers all over the world."

Netbooks are the fastest-growing category of PCs in the last year. Starting from virtually zero in late 2007, 10 million Netbooks were shipped by the end of 2008, accounting for 7 percent of all portable PCs shipped.

The limited capability of Netbooks is also intended to be their appeal: they're basically good for getting online and doing light word processing. But their small size makes them easily transportable, and having the ability to access the Web easily and from anywhere only increases their value. Though the bundled Internet-service model has failed in the U.S. in the past, our reliance on the Web makes it seem like this model could fare better this time around.

About the author

Erica Ogg is a CNET News reporter who covers Apple, HP, Dell, and other PC makers, as well as the consumer electronics industry. She's also one of the hosts of CNET News' Daily Podcast. In her non-work life, she's a history geek, a loyal Dodgers fan, and a mac-and-cheese connoisseur.

 

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