Back before broadband, it was common to find retailers selling pre-built computers for hefty discounts, provided you agreed to sign up for a multi-year dial-up plan. By and large, the concept of discounted hardware in exchange for an ISP commitment has largely went by the wayside, but it may be making a comeback, with a twist.
Don't worry, no one is asking you to commit to three years of AOL on a 56K connection. Instead, HP is considering selling netbooks for a significant discount when bundled with a wireless service contract. While a new concept in the U.S., cellular service providers are already doing this in Asia and Europe. One such example is Taiwanese carrier Far EasTone Communications Ltd., who sells an Asus Eee PC for a scant $29 with a two-year commitment.
"The big picture for these netbooks is that kind of model," Kevin Frost, who runs HP's consumer notebook business unit, said in an interview . "That's the longer-term model."
Frost didn't mention which U.S. wireless providers are being actively pursued, but did say that Verizon and AT&T could be potential candidates. Whether or not either of those companies would be interested remains to be seen, but if it's going to happen, expect it sooner than later while the netbook market is red hot.
Would you be interested in a discounted netbook with a wireless service plan? Hit the jump and tell us what you think.
Image Credit: HP