O2 to sell subsidized MacBooks?

October 20, 2008

Late '08 MacBookFor our favorite fruit company, computer + internet packages aren’t a new idea. For example, back in the day, Apple partnered with Earthlink for 30-day trial dial-up accounts, which is quite a bit different from what O2 has in mind now, though.

Also, here in the present, the idea’s already caught on with other carriers and computer makers in Europe. Are we about to see the Mac and Internet service rebundled?

Well, quoting JRPG analyst Lisa Thompson, Barrons (via The Apple Blog) reports that Apple is believed to be negotiating with the UK’s O2 to sell subsidized MacBooks. The carrier, which is the mothership’s official iPhone partner in that country, purportedly wants to bundle portable Macs with broadband services.

“œWhile a low-cost netbook from Apple could cannibalize higher-end MacBooks,” she wrote, “œwe believe that Apple would increase rather than decrease profits much as they did introducing [iPod] nanos and shuffles at lower capabilities and lower prices.”

Ms Thompson added that, “œ[A]s Apple has shown with its cost reduced 3G phone, it is adept at making money even with lower-priced products.”

The analyst believes that an O2 MacBook + Internet package would use the same discounted hardware + two-year commitment that’s been so successful with the 3G iPhone.

Monkey see, monkey do?

Though you might not know it, if Apple were to agree to O2’s broadband scheme, it wouldn’t be a first for the Cupertino, CA-based computer maker. In fact, Canadian telco Aliant has been packaging entry-level Macs with broadband services for some time.

Will Apple and O2 offer similar packages? Perhaps, but Aliant’s packages are meant to introduce and expand computer/Internet use in economically disadvantaged rural areas.

That said, an area where an Apple/O2 Mac + Internet pairing might make sense is hardware as service””ie a lease””which offloads ownership and service responsibilities. Alternately, the companies could also choose to offer Mac + iPhone + service packages (one-stop shopping).

Could be? Well, according to Barrons, O2 last month denied a similar rumor that it would sell subsidized MacBooks, though the carrier has yet to comment on this latest report.

Still, with other European Internet service providers already teaming up with Dell, Acer and Asus, perhaps an Apple + O2 pairing on Macs is not a question of if, but of when…

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