Mobile industry backs laptop union
Chip giant Intel has signed a deal with the GSM Association (GSMA) to help hardware makers include mobile SIM card readers and 3G connectivity in new PCs.
The pair announced the initiative today and will be publishing guidelines for laptop manufacturers to encourage them to integrate modems capable of picking up various networks, including 3G, HSDPA or EDGE, in their products.
Craig Conway, CEO of the GSMA, said: "This is important because it means the PC has gone mobile. We see this in the most positive way," adding mobile operators can expect to see new revenue streams as a result of the union.
It's thought such moves are designed to encourage laptop users to roam using their existing mobile accounts.
Embedded 3G connectivity has already caught the interest of laptop manufacturers. Dell recently announced a deal with Vodafone to offer HSDPA modems as an optional add on for its laptops, while Lenovo also announced its intention to include super 3G in its hardware.
Like 3G before it, HSDPA is likely to make its way into the wild as a data play and will be more common on data cards before it then spreads to handsets. Several phone makers including BenQ and Samsung have debuted HSDPA enabled phones although most European countries are yet to see HSDPA networks launched.
It seems more of such mobile PC tie-ups could be in the offing. Dave Williams, CTO of operator O2, said yesterday that he expects more tier-two laptop makers to come out with embedded HSDPA offerings this year. Industry watchers expect one of those big names to be Sony.
However, analysts remain sceptical that embedded 3G will be the best option for road warriors. A recent research note from analyst house Gartner said: "We recommend buying laptops and mobile connectivity separately. Certain applications will continue to require handheld devices with integrated 3G connectivity. But for most businesses, add-on cards are a better investment and provide much more flexibility than integrated systems.
"With the pace of improvements, the cost of supplying wireless WAN technology could be far higher than originally expected."