By August 28, 2009

Carphone Warehouse makes new laptop play


Mobile Wi-Fi arrives as contract laptops tumble as much as 63% Carphone Warehouse will launch a new category of mobile broadband alongside new laptops in a bid to restore flagging sales. The retailer has an exclusive on a new Dell laptop for £400, which is the first in the world with ultra low voltage. It will combine the laptop with ‘mobile Wi-Fi’ using a new credit card sized device that works via an on-board Sim card and allows several devices to use it for data connectivity. Carphone told Mobile it is in talks with two operators to sell mobile. Wi-Fi, which could hit shelves within the next month. The retailer is ready to give the Novatel Wireless ‘MiFi 2352’ device a big marketing push and expects it to emulate the success of mobile broadband.

The plans come after a period of several months where Carphone’s laptop sales have fallen rapidly due to the dongle market slowing and more competitors vying for share. A presentation sent to Carphone’s regional managers last week underlined the degree to which sales have fallen. At its worst level, Carphone’s contract laptop connections were down 63% with sales dropping to 1,900 in one particular week. The new mobile Wi-Fi device is expected to be free on contracts and could cost around £120 on prepay. Neil Old, commercial director for Carphone’s Wireless products, said: ‘It’s going to be a massive product for us. It brings some innovation back into the market. All of the operators are very interested and excited by it.’

The Dell laptop is in shops now and an entire new range of laptops will hit Carphone from 22 October, coinciding with the new Microsoft 7.0 operating system, which will feature on the laptops. Carphone claimed the low voltage Dell laptop offers double the battery life of normal devices and is much thinner because of the lack of a conventional fan.

Carphone led the market on laptops in 2008, effectively creating the netbook category and  innovating with subsidised laptops. It also brought out its own brand ‘Webbook’ after a deal with Elonex meant it could give it away for free on dongle contracts.

Elsewhere, Carphone has maintained a record market share on prepay on the back of exclusive products. It has also benefited from a cautious stance from operators towards Argos and Woolworths falling out of the market nine months ago.

What is mobile Wi-Fi?

The device Carphone will sell, Novatel Wireless MiFi 2352, is a portable Wi-Fi hotspot. It is approximately the same length and width as a credit card and is around half an inch in depth. It can provide connectivity for up to five Wi-Fi enabled devices at one time including laptops, mobiles, iPods and digital cameras.

The built-in microSD slot provides expandable storage capacity of up to 16GB, meaning users can easily swap and transfer files between devices.

MiFi is currently sold in a few different countries including the US and Spain. Carphone will be the first to bring the device to the UK but 3 has also announced it will release its own proposition before Christmas.

[Source Mobile Magazine]

Posted in: Phones

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Seasoned tech blogger. Host of the Tech Addicts podcast.
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