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Apple actively contemplating 3G notebooks?

updated 12:55 pm EDT, Tue May 5, 2009

3G MacBooks after all?

Apple may indeed have an interest in merging 3G cellular broadband into Macs, a job listing hints. The company recently announced an opening for a communications QA engineer, who would work full-time within the Mac Hardware Group at the company's Cupertino headquarters. While mentioning routine duties for such a position, the listing also asks for someone who can test driver bugs relating to "3G Wireless WAN" connections, alongside Bluetooth, Ethernet and Wi-Fi.

Unlike some computer builders, Apple does not offer the option of built-in 3G access for its notebooks. The company has in fact expressed a reluctance to incorporate 3G modems, citing the incompatibility of various networks, which could render the technology meaningless for many MacBook customers. Apple has however developed a close relationship with AT&T due to the iPhone, and at times been rumored to be interested in selling notebooks subsidized by carriers.

Complicating matters further is a speculated media pad device, which could be carried by chief AT&T rival Verizon, necessitating some form of built-in cellular reception. It is suggested that the pad could be aimed at competing with netbooks, which would also make the Mac designation more likely. Primary functions are said to include music, photos, video and VoIP.



By Electronista Staff
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  1. bjojade

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2007

    +1

    4g, maybe

    If they create a laptop only compatible to AT&T, they will alienate a lot of their customers that can't or won't use their service. Now, if they designed it as a module that could work with both AT&T and Verizon's network, they'd have a great seller. And before you say that's not possible, I know RIMM has a Blackberry model that does just that.

  1. rytc

    Senior User

    Joined: Jan 2001

    +1

    Verizon

    If they use CDMA then Apple going down that route would be a complete waste of money and time. Not only is CDMA dead it is being actively replaced more or less around the world with GSM. This is the problem with ideas of incorporated cellular WAN. Let's just stick to the dongles that most carriers provide and move on. I don't want to subsidise American laptops that include CDMA.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    -10

    Adding 3g

    Apple may indeed have an interest in merging 3G cellular broadband into Macs

    Of course they do. They're running out of features to add to their computers to keep their prices up. If they don't find some new fancy features, they may have to cut prices. And we can't have that.

    Unlike some computer builders, Apple does not offer the option of built-in 3G access for its notebooks.

    You could also state this as "Like most computer builders...". And its probably this way because most people wouldn't want it.

    The company has in fact expressed a reluctance to incorporate 3G modems, citing the incompatibility of various networks, which could render the technology meaningless for many MacBook customers.

    Heaven forbid they keep it out because most of their customer base has no desire for 3G (or any other type) of data access added to their computer, thus adding cost to the computer with little overall benefit.

    and at times been rumored to be interested in selling notebooks subsidized by carriers.


    Oh joy! Now Mac users can be mocked like those PC users 5 years ago, buying cheap windows boxes with a required 2 year MSN membership or something.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    -10

    CDMA and dongles

    If they use CDMA then Apple going down that route would be a complete waste of money and time.

    Why anyone mentioned CDMA is beyond me, since the article specifically states "3G".

    Let's just stick to the dongles that most carriers provide and move on. I don't want to subsidise American laptops that include CDMA.

    I'm sure someone will argue that dongles make no sense. Unfortunately, Apple seems to love them, as you need dongles to connect your monitors to any new laptop, the MBA requires one for ethernet, modems are passe and thus you need a dongle for that. In fact, Apple apparently thinks all you should need is a couple of USB ports and you're ready to go!

  1. Salty

    Professional Poster

    Joined: Jul 2005

    +1

    More Likely

    More likely I see Apple building space inside the machine where an internal dongle could be put in, essentially AirPort Cards again... only problem with this is that Apple couldn't even find space to put a Firewire port in the new Macbook... I don't know if they're gonna find the space for something that typically ends up being the size of a USB drive. Granted they could use the already existing space they use for wireless in the machine for a lot of it... but still seems like something Apple would steer away from.

  1. bradpdx

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2007

    +1

    Perhaps a good idea

    This ain't about CDMA, it's about 3G. Properly implemented 3G (as in many parts of Europe) can deliver very good internet connection speeds, around 7MB/sec.

    I can imagine some sort of expanded tablet that falls in between a MacBook and an iPhone that makes extensive use of an "always connected to the cloud" paradigm. Netbooks (as currently produced on the cheap) are a lousy experience with their non-scaled-down systems and apps and cheesy displays - there is room for something different. The electronics need not take up much room, especially if there is no USB controller, etc.

    As to dongles - they make perfect sense for rarely used applications, like modems. I have not used a dial-up connection for any reason, work or otherwise, for over 8 years, and this seems typical among people I know.

    Yes, some people still need/use modems. But statistically this is now a very small number. When I travel for business, I find that wired ethernet requirements are becoming almost as rare, as wireless has become virtually ubiquitous for everything of importance.

  1. sailin74

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2002

    +1

    Service providers

    Great marketing idea, sell computer's that require users to use Verizon and AT&T. That seems very non-apple. If anything, I'd bet Apple is using verizon to get the most revenue out of the AT&T relationship.

  1. shawnde

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2008

    -1

    re: room (FireWire)

    There was space or room for FireWire - just not enough space on the Bill of Materials - i.e. they cheaped out their users and it backlashed.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    -1

    Re: room

    It wasn't about space, it was about keeping margins high. Apple has always needed to keep prices high to keep margins high. When they need to cheapen the device, they look for things to remove.

    So, for example, they proclaim a new iPod is $100 cheaper than the previous version, but it also lacks the power brick. Then they come out with a larger capacity at the same price, but then it comes without firewire support.

    With laptops, its the same thing. They add new gimmicks to wow the crowds "Look! Built-in web cams you'll never use!" but then take other things out and hope no one notices ("Firewire? Why would a consumer need firewire?").

    But, remember. You don't buy a Mac because its filled with all the options you could possibly need. You buy it because it looks good. And made out of expensive aluminum and not cheap plastic (except for the earlier MacBook, which was made out of really cheap plastic). If you need an Express Card or PC Card slot, or memory card readers, or stupid things like that, then you should get a PC. Or spend a bunch of money on a MBP and get some external equipment.

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