Posted by: Olga Kharif on September 12, 2008
3G laptops —- essentially, notebooks that can access the Web via wireless high-speed networks — are already hot in Europe, where consumers are snapping up dongles (attachments that act as modems and allow laptops to access the Web) in droves. In the U.S., dongles adoption has been slower, however, and some dongles makers’ stocks have gotten hammered.
But could new laptops with 3G connectivity built in change that? Several computer makers have released laptops with 3G built in back around 2006. But those are hard to find on carriers’ and laptop makers’ sites. Few people have bought those, as far as I know.
But later this year, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo will put out their new 3G laptop models. While these will likely first debut in Europe, U.S. carriers I’ve spoken to are seriously considering rolling these devices out as well, and possibly even selling them in their stores. A store placement could make a world of difference, educating more consumers of the possibility of accessing the Web wirelessly with a laptop.
The big question is, Will U.S. consumers take to 3G laptops better now than they have in the past? Would you pay $60 a month for wireless Web access with a PC?
If the answer is yes, would you still keep your DSL or cable modem home connection? In several European countries, 3G dongles have already grabbed a double-digit percentage of total Web access business from telcos and cable companies. Will America follow suit?