Acer has struck a deal with Telstra to supply three exclusive notebooks with embedded 3G to businesses through its Australian dealer channel in a bid to capitalise on rising mobile broadband take-up. But an analyst has played down the impact of the offering.
All three machines are aimed at SMEs and enterprise customers and will only be available to Telstra dealers and via its IT distribution partner, ICT Distribution.
Acer general manager of corporate, government and enterprise, Michael Cefai, said the telco dealer channel was a massive, untapped opportunity for Acer.
“ICT Distribution has around 2000 dealers on its books, and that’s just one of the channels open to us,” he said.
Cefai also claimed take-up of notebooks with embedded 3G services was inevitable and cited massive adoption in the UK.
The entry-level netbook, the Aspire One A0531, features a 10-inch screen and is available for $28.29 per month with a $19 data pack. The “better grade” Aspire 8371 notebook with 13.3-inch screen costs $149 upfront plus $62.46 per month and comes with 6GB of data for $59 per month; while the higher-end Aspire 8571 15-inch notebook costs $249 upfront and $62.46 per month. It is also bundled with the 6GB data plan.
All are based on 24-month contracts and will be available nationally from February 9.
Cefai said target markets included tertiary and TAFE institutions, SME organisations and enterprises.
He hoped the latest embedded products deal would open up new avenues for Acer and its channel partners to deepen their penetration into the corporate market.
Cefai claimed the vendor had already won a deal within the tertiary market featuring a combination of services from Acer, Telstra and a dealer partner.
Acer first joined forces with Telstra mid-2009 to sell two of its consumer laptops through the telco’s dealers. Rival telecom providers, including Vodafone and Optus, also launched bundled netbook and mobile broadband offerings last year to capitalise on a growing adoption of netbook machines and mobile broadband usage.
The announcement coincides with a range of new Telstra mobile broadband plans for businesses. From January 21, businesses will get seven times the amount of data on the $39 Standard plan, while a $0 upfront offer on Telstra mobile broadband elite devices will be available for select 24-month contracts. A range of 120GB plans are also now available to heavier users, and prices have dropped an average of $20 per month.
In a statement, Telstra Business Group managing director, Deena Shiff, said the surge in mobile broadband, made apparent in recent wireless broadband take-up figures, showed it was no longer just a tool for senior executives. According to the Australian Communications and Media Authority, Australia’s wireless broadband adoption rose 162 per cent in 2008-2009, accounting for 22 per cent of all Internet subscribers.
But while mobile broadband take-up is rampant, IDC analyst, Mark Novosel, wasn’t convinced there would be widespread adoption of embedded 3G machines in the business community.
“I don’t see it making a big impact in corporate, seeing as most organisations already have other procurement methods for laptops and hardware technologies and often get discounts on bulk purchasing,” he said.
“Until laptops are sold in the way mobiles are, I can’t see that much take-up. The problem with these models is that the cost of the laptop is just spread over 24 months. We need to move towards a model where notebooks and plans are available on a flat rate. I think there would be more interest if that happened.”