Netbook Sales To Drive Mobile Data Adoption?

Here's an interesting one. While the public at large may be curbing their purchasing of WWAN cards, the demand for mobile broadband is still forecast to shoot up in the coming years. How so, you ask? Simple: netbooks. With Verizon Wireless and AT&T already selling 3G-enabled netbooks for dirt cheap on contract, you can understand the sentiment here. More and more, consumers will walk into a carrier's store and walk out with a new, low-cost computer. And that computer will be tethered to a mobile data plan for two solid years. Needless to say, it won't take many of those sales to see usage creep up.

Netbook bundles are undoubtedly the next big push in mobile data. By and large, WWAN sales have peaked, at least at their current price (which is rather high, just so you know). But the allure of getting a cheap notebook is apt to be too irresitable for many, and analysts are even expecting these bundles to spark mobile data demand in foreign countries. Netbooks are still on the rise, and it's reasonable to expect future buyers to only buy units that are subsidized.

Cristiano Laux, Manager of Consulting at Pyramid Research, makes an interesting point about the whole scenario: "While many operators are already supporting the business case for netbook bundles, OEMs are not happy about the downward pressure on laptop prices and the cannibalization that netbooks may have on the sales of high-end notebooks. For now, they have agreed to live with the threat, fearing that without netbooks, the recession would hit computer sales even more than it has done already."

So, is mobile broadband growth tied directly to netbook sales? If all of the major US carriers jump on the netbook bandwagon, we would definitely see the answer to that being "yes." And with operators looking for good reason to invest in LTE and WiMAX, we couldn't be happier to see it come together.