AT&T will subsidize the cost of the mini-laptop for users who sign up for a two-year data contract; without a commitment the price is $599.
AT&T is partnering with mobile phone giant Nokia on its venture into laptops. Mobile professionals will be able to purchase Nokia's Booklet 3G for $299 with a two-year mobile data plan commitment.
The Booklet 3G will be available exclusively in Best Buy stores throughout the holiday retail season, and users will be able to buy the mini-laptop without a data commitment for $599. The Booklet 3G is powered by the Intel Atom processor, has a chassis made from a single piece of aluminum, and will run its operating system is Microsoft Windows 7.
The computer has Wi-Fi, 3G capabilities, GPS, a 120-GB hard-disk drive, and will be able to access programs from Nokia's Ovi catalog. The system comes with a 16-cell battery that Nokia said will deliver up to 12 hours of battery life.
For Nokia, the move comes as smartphones and laptops are becoming increasingly similar in terms of pricing and capabilities. Computer makers are also seeing this trend, and companies such as Apple, Acer, and even Dell are jumping into the smartphone market to capitalize on the mobile computing convergence.
AT&T is looking at netbooks and laptops as a way to generate additional revenues on its mobile data networks. The company has long had success discounting cell phones to get customers locked into a two-year service contract, and it is trying to replicate that business model with devices such as the Booklet 3G.
It is unclear how strong consumer demand is for subsidized netbooks, as many of these devices can be purchased outright for less than $400 and can be used with home Internet connections or open Wi-Fi.
The Booklet 3G will be available Oct. 22, and the $299 price tag will come with a data plan that costs about $60 a month. AT&T said the mini-laptop would also be offered with other rate plans and at pricing to be announced.
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