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Orange to subsidize MacBooks alongside mobile broadband sales

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Orange, the United Kingdom's top rated mobile broadband provider, is said to be wrapping up talks with Apple to offer subsidized MacBooks to customers who sign up for its 3G service.

Under the proposed terms of the deal, Orange customers who commit to a two-year contract for the over-the-air service will have the option to purchase one of the 13-inch Apple notebooks at substantial discount to the suggested manufacturers retail price.

Orange has reportedly been testing its USB dongle modems with the current line of MacBooks in anticipation of launching the promotion sometime this summer.

Mobile Today, which broke the story, said its understood that Orange has made a volume commitment, meaning it's agreed to purchase a predetermined number of systems for Apple, which it will then turn around and sell to subscribers at a subsidized cost.

The report adds that Orange officials "are hoping the laptop deal will be a stepping stone to the operator securing a distribution deal for future Apple laptops, which include built-in mobile broadband from an embedded Sim card."

A recent survey by YouGov declared Orange mobile broadband the most reliable mobile broadband service in the UK. Reasons cited for the top honor where relatively low charges for exceeding the 3GB per month bandwidth allowance, best regional coverage, and competitive pricing.

Orange currently bundles low end notebooks and netbooks with 3GB per month of its mobile broadband service in two year contract bundles that cost between $850 and $1,100 over the term of the contract, or roughly $35 to $50 per month.

Purchased by itself, Orange's 3GB tier of data service costs $21.26 per month, or $510 over the two year contract. That makes the hardware-included bundles Orange currently offers more of a financing arrangement rather than a deep hardware discount, as the Eee PC and Toshiba L300 laptops it bundles only cost $250 and $500 at retail.

However, by offering a MacBook together with a mobile broadband service bundle, Orange could sell Apple's $1299 MacBook for around $75 per month (50 pounds), a much more approachable way for many people to buy a new notebook.
post #2 of 16
Interesting given that Apple already has an exclusive relationship for the iPhone with O2, a rival to Orange.

I've been considering mobile broadband for a while but have read mixed reviews about the speed and reliability of the connection.
post #3 of 16
You know, I've never really considered my data usage when online.

Assuming just average surfing, email, the occasional song download, maybe the odd Netflix stream (assuming that's even possible with 3G data speeds), how constraining would 3GB/month be?
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post #4 of 16
Perfect. I can't believe, though, that Apple is going to go forward with this USB dongle setup rather than getting an internal modem done.
post #5 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by cameronj View Post

Perfect. I can't believe, though, that Apple is going to go forward with this USB dongle setup rather than getting an internal modem done.

I can't imagine that Apple would consider redesigning the recently refreshed Macbook for one carrier in one market.

If the service takes off, and other carriers follow suit, then sure, it would make sense to start putting cell radios in a subsequent revision.

Don't forget, for all their design mojo and "whole widget" integration chops, Apple is quite conservative when it comes to integrating new tech (well, new to them; I realize 3G on laptops is pretty old hat, at this point).
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post #6 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

You know, I've never really considered my data usage when online.

Assuming just average surfing, email, the occasional song download, maybe the odd Netflix stream (assuming that's even possible with 3G data speeds), how constraining would 3GB/month be?

3 GB per month is 100 MB a day. As long as you're just browsing the web, that would be fine. Downloading a song is of course 4-5 MB. Viewing an online photo gallery will sap it pretty quickly. I'd never be able to survive on that amount, and I'm not a heavy user. You'd NEVER be able to download a Divx movie, and you'd have to seriously limit your Youtube browsing.
post #7 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by cameronj View Post

3 GB per month is 100 MB a day. As long as you're just browsing the web, that would be fine. Downloading a song is of course 4-5 MB. Viewing an online photo gallery will sap it pretty quickly. I'd never be able to survive on that amount, and I'm not a heavy user. You'd NEVER be able to download a Divx movie, and you'd have to seriously limit your Youtube browsing.

Yeah, that's pretty much what I figured. As an adjunct to WiFi while out and about, I guess that would be handy, but not sure if it would justify the cost. For me, at least.
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post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by cameronj View Post

Perfect. I can't believe, though, that Apple is going to go forward with this USB dongle setup rather than getting an internal modem done.

I'm sure we'll see built-in 3G in the near future - especially now Apple has sold plenty of it's own 3G devices.

This is good news that consumers can choose a Mac when using this purchasing model - which must be appealing to those who don't wish to make a large initial outlay.

My home broadband is limited to 5GB I occasionally use 6GB if I've been using iPlayer and pay an extra £2 for that 1GB which isn't a problem. I suspect going over the 3GB limit would be very costly on 3G though.
post #9 of 16
There is an inevitability about the marketing campaign for this, isn't there? No matter about the details of the deal having a marketing/advertising campaign for Apple and Orange can be a novel one, which raises the profile in a unique way.

It makes Apple's exclusive deal with O2 a little less exclusive on the face of it and I have no doubt that with Apple's growing expertise in the mobile arena rubbing off with the possibility of a future laptop that can have the capability built in. It is most certainly the way forward but will likely be done in an Apple centric way.

More Macs and OS X being sold is always a good thing and new innovative ways of doing it should always be welcomed.
post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by KnightoftheWord View Post

There is an inevitability about the marketing campaign for this, isn't there? No matter about the details of the deal having a marketing/advertising campaign for Apple and Orange can be a novel one, which raises the profile in a unique way.

It makes Apple's exclusive deal with O2 a little less exclusive on the face of it and I have no doubt that with Apple's growing expertise in the mobile arena rubbing off with the possibility of a future laptop that can have the capability built in. It is most certainly the way forward but will likely be done in an Apple centric way.

More Macs and OS X being sold is always a good thing and new innovative ways of doing it should always be welcomed.

Bingo!

The timing of all the recent "leaks" from chip makers, display & component mfgrs, current (and potential) carriers, etc., combined with the new iPhone SDK drop, SNL rumors, and the looming WWDC showcase for announcements...

...this appears to be an orchestrated effort, rather than random, unrelated, incidents.

(We don't comment about unannounced products... but thanks for asking
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post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by cameronj View Post

Perfect. I can't believe, though, that Apple is going to go forward with this USB dongle setup rather than getting an internal modem done.

The article seems to indicate that this will happen in future:

Quote:
The report adds that Orange officials "are hoping the laptop deal will be a stepping stone to the operator securing a distribution deal for future Apple laptops, which include built-in mobile broadband from an embedded Sim card."

I'm sceptical that Orange would know about future hardware. Also, it makes no sense for such a product to have 'an embedded Sim card.' You embed the (baseband?) chipset, not the SIM card. Even if it is going to be bundled with a particular carrier, you lock the chipset, as with mobile phones, and allow the SIM card to be slotted in wherever is convenient (nowhere on a current Macbook). Could be a confusion over terminology: I do think the entire laptop line could benefit from 3G functionality, at least as an option.
post #12 of 16
...here in Austria.

Basically, you get 400 off of any PC or Laptop you buy when you sign a 29 (about 2000$) per month contract for 2 years. This includes 5GB Traffic.
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Now running on a 20" aluminium iMac (Fall 2008), as well as a Macboook Pro 13" (mid 2009) and an iPhone.
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post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by cameronj View Post

Perfect. I can't believe, though, that Apple is going to go forward with this USB dongle setup rather than getting an internal modem done.

Although it's a good idea, I doubt Apple will go that way for a while because of increased size, cost and battery consumption.

If you add GSM or UMTS radios you also have to add one or more antennas. You can't add it to the motherboard. If you did you'd have to submit the laptop to the FCC and other national regulators for approval six months ahead of time, so it has to be add-in card, which is more bulky.

It adds to cost because besides the extra components you'd have to pay licensing, which for 3G is expensive. And for the user they'd probably have to get a second plan in addition to their existing phone, although obviously carriers might offer bundles.

Apple has to balance these things against an estimate of demand. Would your average user be more likely to buy a MacBook if it had a built-in cellular modem? Probably not. People can use their existing phones for that on their existing plans now (except if you have an iPhone).
post #14 of 16
In Australia The Dell 9" netbook is being given away for nothing upfront with a $50pm two year contract (about $30 US), with speeds on 3G broadband now upped to 21MB it is actually becoming a bloody great service for people who live in metropolitan areas (which is around 95% of Australians).
post #15 of 16
Too bad there isn't a carrier in the US that will do this? That would be a nice deal especially for SOHOs.
post #16 of 16
Actually that Dell-Vodafone deal is not just in Australia, this may be Orange's answer to it in the UK..

It's a netbook with a built in modem, the antenna is built into the rear of the screen and it's made by Dell of all people, as if Apple can't do a better job fitting that stuff into a full sized laptop.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Murphster View Post

In Australia The Dell 9" netbook is being given away for nothing upfront with a $50pm two year contract (about $30 US), with speeds on 3G broadband now upped to 21MB it is actually becoming a bloody great service for people who live in metropolitan areas (which is around 95% of Australians).
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Better than my Bose, better than my Skullcandy's, listening to Mozart through my LeBron James limited edition PowerBeats by Dre is almost as good as my Sennheisers.
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