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ARM/Linux netbooks attract carrier support

Apr 24, 2009 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

AT&T is putting its weight behind netbooks using ARM processors, calling them the “next big step,” according to an article today in EE Times. The carrier has also begun selling four different subsidized netbooks (left) in Atlanta and Philadelphia, with plans to roll them out nationwide.

The EE Times report quotes Glenn Lurie, president of the carrier's emerging devices group, as saying, “we are close to 90 percent penetration [of cellphones] in the U.S.,” adding that the carrier sees netbooks as a “tremendous opportunity.” AT&T is helping OEMs create designs and select chipsets, and expects to offer ARM/Linux netbooks in addition to present-day x86 devices, Lurie is said to have added.

According to EE Times writer Rick Merritt, the carrier also plans to help with the creation of PNDs (portable navigation devices), e-readers, and even digital cameras, ensuring, of course, that they include wide area connectivity courtesy of AT&T. “With the success of the Amazon Kindle [link], we think there will be many, many more e-books coming very quickly to compete with it. And there were some 20 million PNDs sold in the U.S. last year, but almost none of them are able to connect to the Web,” he is said to have added.

Microsoft is now claiming that Windows owns 96 percent of the netbook market, particularly upsetting to open source advocates given that the mini-notebooks were originally seen as a premier opportunity for Linux. Meanwhile, the software giant, cozy with Intel, is not putting its weight behind the idea of netbooks using anything but x86 processors, ARM chief executive Warren East has charged.

AT&T offers four subsidized netbooks — from the top, they're Acer's Aspire One, Dell's Mini 9, LG's X110, and Dell's Mini 12
(Click image to enlarge)

Staying aloof from the fray, AT&T has clearly signaled its support for any netbook CPU that will come to the wireless broadband party. At the beginning of this month, the carrier rolled out the four subsidized netbooks pictured at right — from top to bottom, Acer's Aspire One, Dell's Mini 9, LG's X110, and Dell's Mini 12.

Sold for approximately $100 to $350, following $100 mail-in rebates and data service contracts, the netbooks come with cellular modems and SIM cards confining their use to AT&T's 3G network, though the devices' standard 802.11b/g wireless networking abilities are also included. Currently available only to shoppers in Atlanta and Philadelphia, the netbooks will be available nationwide later this year, the carrier says.

Further information

For further information on the netbooks offered by AT&T, see the carrier's website, here.

To read a warning by Consumer Reports about the actual cost of purchasing AT&T's subsidized netbooks, see the publication's website, here.

To see the EE Times article quoting AT&T's Glenn Lurie, see the publication's website, here.

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