What are they thinking?

Wireless companies are rushing to offer low-cost netbooks tied to expensive data plans and just as expensive gadgets that, at the end of the day, result in a netbook that costs more than Dell’s high-end Alienware laptop.  Just take a look at what Verizon is doing. The $199 netbook price looks real appealing at first. But you have to sign a two-year contract with a data package that will cost about $1,000. Do the math and you quickly go, huh?

I love  netbooks. I think these light and easy-to-use devices have a real niche market. College students can use them to take notes in class and read material away from class (the 10.1 inch screens are much easier to read that the 6″ screen most e-readers come with).  Since they’re so light, they’re easy to cart anywhere with wireless access, and it’s becoming easier by the day to find a free wireless hookup. And I also like the video and color you can’t get with the e-reader on the American market.

But  I also don’t think netbooks are going to drive mobile data adoption because the public, after the initial infactuation, will look a the overall costs and go, “No Way.”

So that’s why netbooks might have harder time growing market share. And that should concern publishers, because these nifty little devices hold a lot of promise. There could even come a time when publishers and wireless carriers form partnerships to help grow market share for both — a publisher has a local army of carriers that can deliver the devices, and the carrier has tremendous marketing muscle. That would be something worth talking about.

The views on this blog are mine alone

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