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AT&T talking with Apple about 3G-ready MacBooks?

post #1 of 52
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AT&T is hoping to make 3G-enabled notebooks a staple of its cellular business, and in an executive interview hints that it may be chatting with Apple to extend its reach into MacBooks or other non-iPhone devices.

Sitting down with Fortune, AT&T's Emerging Devices group president Glenn Lurie says he would like his company's deals with Apple to extend beyond the iPhone, though he takes care to avoid implying any immediate collaboration on other hardware and portrays Apple as one of many device builders AT&T speaks with regarding future plans.

"We're having conversations with lots of folks," he says. "[But] I would very much like to do more business with Apple, and hope that we do."

The subject surfaces in a conversation where Lurie acknowledges that the carrier is making an increasing push into non-phone devices that could use cellular broadband. Recent netbooks such as Acer's Aspire One and Dell's Inspiron Mini 9 have or are now being offered in bundles that, like with cellphones, heavily subsidize the up front cost of the system in exchange for agreeing to a contract -- in this case for AT&T data service.

Such plans have worked "extremely well" with a holiday promotion for the Aspire One that dropped its price temporarily to $99 with the deal, according to Lurie. He also expresses hope that 3G and other forms of wireless data from the company will get into as many products as possible, including larger portables.

Whether or not Apple will take to such a strategy is less than certain. Sources have suggested to AppleInsider as early as 2007 that the Mac maker was looking into integrating 3G with its notebooks, but no such product has surfaced since.

Apple's co-founder Steve Jobs has acknowledged his company's investigations into the technology but, as of a year ago, has also said he doesn't want MacBooks to be tied to a carrier for enhanced wireless. In the US, Apple would likely need to follow a similar approach to the iPhone and use the HSPA standard for 3G, which would limit it to AT&T for wide-area broadband if the electronics firm also wants the technology to work in Europe and most other parts of the world. T-Mobile USA has 3G but only in a small number of markets and using a mostly incompatible frequency.

It's nonetheless evident that AT&T is exploring its options. In discussing AT&T's ventures into non-phone territory, Lurie acknowledges that he had just minutes before talked with Apple's COO Tim Cook, hinting that both companies are discussing more than just traditional handsets.
post #2 of 52
Apple won't even expand it's regular lineup of computers (even though they now have high enough volume sales there is no reason to continue with their limited matrix of offerings). I have a hard time seeing them making a custom MacBook just for ATT, and an even harder time seeing how enough people would be willing to tie a $1000 computer to a particular carrier.

I could see them integrating 3G antennas that would support any 3G service and have an internal slot for a card from the carrier of your choice (is there such a thing?). Sort of like the current ExpressCard or PCCard slot cards but without an antenna sticking out of the card (it would be integrated into the MB's case design).
post #3 of 52
Last year, I theorized that Apple/AT&T would make great partners to reinvent the home set-top box experience, and of course the premise of a tablet sized iPhone/iPod touch dovetails nicely.

In general, such an approach could position AT&T to become the one bill/uber family plan across telephony, TV and mobile broadband, something I blogged about in:

Apple, TV and the Smart Connected Living Room
http://thenetworkgarden.com/weblog/2...tv-and-th.html

Check it out if interested.

Mark
post #4 of 52
ideal for the upcoming Apple netbook...

(that also runs the iphone OS)
post #5 of 52
If this does happen I would hope it's not built into the internal hardware, which I think is a stupid idea which limits the consumer and would be a tech support nightmare for both companies.
post #6 of 52
First of all, it would only be AT&T in the US. Most other countries Aple sells Mqcs in are using using yw same UMTS frequencies as AT&T. Though the US would have to be Apple's primary focus.

Secondly, Apple could simply do what they did with first WiFi PowerBooks; they could offer a proprietary card thy fits inside. Even though they are removing the use replacable batteries this tiny, thin card could easily be inserted by removing the bottom cover's 10 screws. I really want to get rid of my AT&T Sierra Wireless USB card!
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post #7 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

If this does happen I would hope it's not built into the internal hardware, which I think is a stupid idea which limits the consumer and would be a tech support nightmare for both companies.

Don't do it Apple. ATT has a long way to go to catch up with Verizon service that's why I don't have an iPhone yet.
post #8 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

If this does happen I would hope it's not built into the internal hardware, which I think is a stupid idea which limits the consumer and would be a tech support nightmare for both companies.

I agree, it needs to be a replaceable card or similar.
post #9 of 52
GROSS!!!!!
A LAPTOP TIED TO AT&T!!!!!!
post #10 of 52
I think Apple will inevitably need to add mobile wireless options to its notebooks.

But they should wait for LTE, the speeds will be much faster, and users will have the choice between ATT, Verizon and T-Mobile.
post #11 of 52
Quote:
"...Lurie acknowledges that he had just minutes before talked with Apple's COO Tim Cook, hinting that both companies are discussing more than just traditional handsets."

Well, there goes Tim Cook. Jobs should be firing him right about... now.

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post #12 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Mac View Post

Don't do it Apple. ATT has a long way to go to catch up with Verizon service that's why I don't have an iPhone yet.

Not that I want to see a ATT macbook but saying that AT&T is a long way away from any other carrier is simply foolish. Here in PA you verizon customers are always taking my iPhone to make a phone call. My service here in the NE United States with AT&T is better then I could hope for!!!
post #13 of 52
If Apple were to do something like this in it's laptop line, they must do one of a few things:

1) Include multiple cellular technologies (3G+CDMA) and their associated hardware cost in all laptops (or at least all in a line of laptops -- like MacBook Pros, or MacBook Airs) as default, but unlocked... perhaps slightly more expensive.

2) Offer a specific cellular technology (either 3G or CDMA) unlocked, but as an upgradable extra.

3) Offer cellular technologies locked, but at NO extra cost to the user (i.e. the extra hardware required is subsidized by the provider).
post #14 of 52
I'm surprised that the MacBook Air wasn't initially offered with an option for something like this.

I think what really needs to happen is an internal micro-PCIe slot standard with standardized antenna connections so you don't have to worry about the whole notebook locked to a carrier. Also, you wouldn't have to worry about having an awkward USB stick hanging out the side of the notebook. So not only could it be completely internal, if you don't want the service, you wouldn't even have to buy the card.
post #15 of 52
Here is the problem with this business model compared to a phone.

Buy a subsidized phone and pay the early termination fee to get out of the contract and now you have a phone that can't make or receive calls. Even with wif-fi and voip, this is a severely limiting factor.

Now try this with a laptop. If your laptop doesn't have 3G service, well then you have a laptop just like millions of other people that can still do almost everything.
post #16 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggin View Post

Apple won't even expand it's regular lineup of computers (even though they now have high enough volume sales there is no reason to continue with their limited matrix of offerings). I have a hard time seeing them making a custom MacBook just for ATT, and an even harder time seeing how enough people would be willing to tie a $1000 computer to a particular carrier.

I could see them integrating 3G antennas that would support any 3G service and have an internal slot for a card from the carrier of your choice (is there such a thing?). Sort of like the current ExpressCard or PCCard slot cards but without an antenna sticking out of the card (it would be integrated into the MB's case design).

LOL no, all the laptops with internal 3G modems are operated by MAGIC, not an internal card....
post #17 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

I think Apple will inevitably need to add mobile wireless options to its notebooks.

But they should wait for LTE, the speeds will be much faster, and users will have the choice between ATT, Verizon and T-Mobile.

This is the winner, folks. Wait for LTE and avoid another AT&T lock-in. Also, Apple hates legacy anything, including last-year's wireless technology.

Smaller MacBook Air + LTE = hot seller and serious competition for high-end netbook customers
post #18 of 52
This is nothing new.

If you have purchased a PC in the last year (high end) you are given the option to have 3G built in (if you choose to customize your purchase).

With the Dell XPS I last purchased I was given the option of either AT&T, Verizon or none as my built in 3G options for the laptop.

I chose none as I didn't want my computer to be tied to a carrier and I could always add it later if/when I switched from AT&T to another carrier.

The only interesting thing I find about this article is that Apple is only in talks with AT&T. PC Laptops/Netbooks are normally given an option of multiple carriers.
post #19 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by maybesew View Post

Here is the problem with this business model compared to a phone.

Buy a subsidized phone and pay the early termination fee to get out of the contract and now you have a phone that can't make or receive calls. Even with wif-fi and voip, this is a severely limiting factor.

Now try this with a laptop. If your laptop doesn't have 3G service, well then you have a laptop just like millions of other people that can still do almost everything.

That's what contracts are for, my friend. The iPhone 3G is subsidized by ATT, and users can back away from that contract if they want, they just have to pay off the fee. Same thing with a laptop.
post #20 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlux View Post

This is the winner, folks. Wait for LTE and avoid another AT&T lock-in. Also, Apple hates legacy anything, including last-year's wireless technology.

That's supposed to be a joke, right?

Nearly everything Apple sells is out of date by the time it hits the shelf, and certainly way out of date by the time Apple gets around to updating the line again.
post #21 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by cameronj View Post

Nearly everything Apple sells is out of date by the time it hits the shelf, and certainly way out of date by the time Apple gets around to updating the line again.

Do we have to go through this argument again?

- FireWire
- Exclusive use of USB (no serial/parallel ports at all)
- Dropping of floppy drive
- 802.11g
- DVI versus VESA port
- 30" display
- Multitouch as sole interface
- large LED display
- Mini DisplayPort
- etc.

Apple isn't always the very first to adopt new technology (I never claimed they were, btw), but they don't throw everything against the wall and see what sticks, either. The important point, for this discussion, is that the demand for carrier-connected notebooks isn't so large that Apple can't wait for LTE to mature, skipping the hassles of supporting today's wireless standards. (Remember how much grief they got for using EDGE on the original iPhone?)
post #22 of 52
I doubt that this will happen. Apple will not dilute the premium position that have developed over the years. Strategically, this wouldn't make sense in my view.
post #23 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlux View Post

(Remember how much grief they got for using EDGE on the original iPhone?)

Uh, yeah. Don't you think that has some impact on your argument that Apple refuses to use last year's technology? 3G is and will remain the sole method of getting high speed internet on the road for more than a year. It is NOT an out of date, dead end technology. It will continue to provide great speeds for users three years from now just as it does now. For those who are willing to pay up for much faster speeds, I'm sure a new laptop in three years won't be the end of the world.
post #24 of 52
... Expresscard 34 slot? Presumably, mostly business users would want to use this, and most of them would spring for a MBP, wouldn't they? The MBA should have a WWAN card built in.
post #25 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by amac4me View Post

I doubt that this will happen. Apple will not dilute the premium position that have developed over the years. Strategically, this wouldn't make sense in my view.

That statement might make sense if you explain it. I don't see how adding wireless connectivity would dilute this "premium position", the opposite for some people, if you can use the internet on the notebook just about anywhere without having to worry about whether there is an open & unlocked hotspot nearby.
post #26 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacOldTimer View Post

The only interesting thing I find about this article is that Apple is only in talks with AT&T. PC Laptops/Netbooks are normally given an option of multiple carriers.

I didn't see anywhere that Apple wasn't talking to other carriers. And Verizon did just make itself a little more interesting with the acquisition of Alltel.
post #27 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Mac View Post

Don't do it Apple. ATT has a long way to go to catch up with Verizon service that's why I don't have an iPhone yet.

I had Verizon for 10 years and switched to the iPhone last year. Although Verizon has great customer service, I had a lot of problems with reception and dropped calls over the years. I have not had any reception problems or dropped calls since I got the iPhone. I absolutely love it! Of course, the technology is second to none too. I did not even bother to look at the Storm. Cheers!
post #28 of 52
In the name of all that's holy, I sure hope this doesn't happen. AT&T couldn't even handle iPhone 3G traffic without its network damn near collapsing. Start adding devices that use a lot more bandwidth and we're talking meltdown. Even Xohm would be better, as limited as their coverage is.
post #29 of 52
This isn't really true. But what does it matter when Macs are outselling the general PC market.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cameronj View Post

That's supposed to be a joke, right?

Nearly everything Apple sells is out of date by the time it hits the shelf, and certainly way out of date by the time Apple gets around to updating the line again.
post #30 of 52
Wow. Apple is considering something that I suggested to them SIX years ago. I know they aren't stealing my idea. The management guy I told did not even understand it.
post #31 of 52
To be fair, no other network has a phone that uses near as much data as the iPhone. So we don't really know if others would have trouble with the over load.

Also AT&T has been spending hundreds of millions to update it's network. Things are much better than when the 3G was first launched.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kolchak View Post

In the name of all that's holy, I sure hope this doesn't happen. AT&T couldn't even handle iPhone 3G traffic without its network damn near collapsing. Start adding devices that use a lot more bandwidth and we're talking meltdown. Even Xohm would be better, as limited as their coverage is.
post #32 of 52
This is stupid! Every single notebook is 3G ready! You just need a USB port to connect a 3G dongle that provides 3G connectivity like it's being done for quite some time here in Portugal. The carriers sell the dongles with a sim card and you just need to pop it up on the laptop and you're in the internet. Of course you must pay the associated fees :-P
post #33 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggin View Post

Apple won't even expand it's regular lineup of computers (even though they now have high enough volume sales there is no reason to continue with their limited matrix of offerings). I have a hard time seeing them making a custom MacBook just for ATT, and an even harder time seeing how enough people would be willing to tie a $1000 computer to a particular carrier.

I could see them integrating 3G antennas that would support any 3G service and have an internal slot for a card from the carrier of your choice (is there such a thing?). Sort of like the current ExpressCard or PCCard slot cards but without an antenna sticking out of the card (it would be integrated into the MB's case design).

Go Back to the Sculley days and look at the insain zoo of products, the 15 models that all did about the same thing with really similar specs nearly killed ther company, Steve killed most models when he got back to apple, that and the imaqc pretty much saved the company.
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post #34 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

GROSS!!!!!
A LAPTOP TIED TO AT&T!!!!!!

I definitely agree!!! I don't have an iphone because AT&T stinks. Now rumors say they want to take the choice away form a netbook as well???
post #35 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

This isn't really true. But what does it matter when Macs are outselling the general PC market.

Really? Growth is great, but 9 out of every 10 computers sold is still not a Mac. And that's largely because 75% of computers sold have "price/performance" as one of the most important metrics.
post #36 of 52
I could see Apple putting an LTE 4G/3G chip in new macbooks, and maybe set up a partnership if ATT wanted to subsidize them.

But there's no way they'd do carrier exclusivity.
post #37 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by cameronj View Post

Really? Growth is great, but 9 out of every 10 computers sold is still not a Mac. And that's largely because 75% of computers sold have "price/performance" as one of the most important metrics.

Mac growth is very string compared to the industry average.

Why mention that all the other OEMs combined outsell Apple 9 to 1 as if all the other vendors are in league together? Apple has 10% of the US market in unit sales, which is damn good for a company that doesn't sell loss leader products. The highest US OEM only has 25% of the market, but you don't say they are being outsold by 4 to 1.

Most computers compete on price and superfical performance specs. Actual performance and usability is quite different.
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post #38 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roc Ingersol View Post

I could see Apple putting an LTE 4G/3G chip in new macbooks, and maybe set up a partnership if ATT wanted to subsidize them.

But there's no way they'd do carrier exclusivity.

I don't understand this talk about LTE when UMTS can be developed so much more than it is now. We don't even have HSUPA and we are to expect all that investing into UMTS to be dropped so soon? I don't get it.
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post #39 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

To be fair, no other network has a phone that uses near as much data as the iPhone. So we don't really know if others would have trouble with the over load.

Services like Xohm aren't cell networks, so you shouldn't compare them directly. They're designed from the ground up to be wireless broadband for computers, so they're much less likely to be overloaded.

Quote:
Also AT&T has been spending hundreds of millions to update it's network. Things are much better than when the 3G was first launched.

Sorry, I don't buy that. That's just their PR. Notice AI's article on the latest lawsuit about the poor 3G performance. And that's just running iPhones with their limited capabilities. Imagine how bad performance would be if you introduced devices onto the network that use much more bandwidth and can use a lot more websites. More Hulu usage, more Flash and Silverlight, etc.
post #40 of 52
I remember reading somewhere that Apple was in no rush to adopt internal mobile broadband because it would limit service choice.

I'm looking at LTE because the technology will offer a choice of different carriers. But its of course difficult to know what Apple will do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I don't understand this talk about LTE when UMTS can be developed so much more than it is now. We don't even have HSUPA and we are to expect all that investing into UMTS to be dropped so soon? I don't get it.
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