Carriers to sell majority of mobile devices by '13

With more carriers offering Netbooks, In-Stat forecasts that over 60 percent of Internet-enabled mobile devices will be sold directly by carriers by 2013.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

More mobile carriers are offering Netbooks as a way to lure new customers--a trend that's likely to surge and encompass notebooks as well.

HP Mini 1151NR
Hewlett-Packard Mini 1151NR via Verizon Wireless.
Credit: Verizon Wireless

By 2013, more than 60 percent of all mobile devices, including Netbooks and notebooks, are expected to be sold directly by wireless carriers, according to research released Wednesday by In-Stat. Almost 31 percent of notebooks alone will be sold through carriers, In-Stat predicts.

Bundling an inexpensive Netbook or notebook is a small price to pay for a carrier, which can then charge customers for a monthly data plan.

"In the U.S., carriers are charging up to $60 per month for a two-year contract with the subsidized purchase of a Netbook," In-Stat analyst Jim McGregor said in a statement. "While the subsidy costs the carrier $50 to $100, it generates $1,440 or more in service fees over the life of the contract."

Carriers such as Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and Sprint have already been dangling Netbooks as carrots to attract more mobile customers. Verizon is selling Netbooks from Hewlett-Packard and Gateway. AT&T is selling Dell, Acer, and Lenovo Netbooks, as well as a Nokia Booklet 3G. Sprint is also selling a Dell Netbook.

Thanks to the success of low-cost Netbooks, U.S. carriers are further testing the waters by bundling full-size notebooks along with a two-year contract. The strategy isn't just limited to the United States, noted In-Stat. Carriers in Europe and Asia are giving out Netbooks with a data plan, but often at lower prices than in the U.S. Asian carriers have also been offering the kissing cousins of Netbooks: mobile Internet devices and ultramobile PCs.

This trend will intensify as carriers boost the number of services offered and cut prices on those services due to higher competition and better bandwidth, In-Stat said. The mobile market itself is also expected to become more attractive, with richer content and increased bandwidth.