Nokia said on Tuesday that Best Buy would sell its first netbook computer for $299 to customers who sign up for a $60-a-month mobile service plan with AT&T Inc.
Best Buy, the only U.S. retailer to sell the Booklet 3G branded computer for the upcoming holiday shopping season, said the mini-laptop would cost $599 for consumers who do not opt for the AT&T wireless plan and instead just connect to the Web using Wi-Fi, a short-range wireless technology.
U.S. consumers will be able to order the Booklet on October 22, the launch date for Microsoft Windows 7 software, the operating system for the device. It will be in Best Buy stores around November 15.
With computer makers such as Apple Inc and Dell delving into the phone market, No. 1 phone maker Nokia is expanding its horizons into computing. It announced its plans to launch the netbook early last month. AT&T is also looking to expand beyond phones to maintain subscriber growth.
Current Analysis analyst Avi Greengart said that while the device is about twice the price of some rival netbooks it could attract consumers who are looking for improved battery life.
Nokia claims that when fully charged the netbook can work for as long as 12 hours, a battery life that Greengart described as ridiculously good in comparison to other netbooks with an average battery life of about 4 hours.
You're paying a premium but you're getting a premium design and battery life, he said at a Nokia event where the distribution partnerships were announced.
AT&T's emerging devices executive Glenn Lurie said that he expects the improved battery life to help sales.
We think this is going to be an absolute home run for the holiday season, he said at the event.
Best Buy's Chief Marketing Officer Barry Judge said that longer battery life, a high quality screen resolution and more memory should help put a dent in the relatively high return rate among netbook computer buyers.
They do have a fairly high return rate because the netbook doesn't do what the notebook (computer) can do said Judge, who added that the device should sell well as consumers were starting to spend again on items such as electronics. Netbooks don't have as much computing power as standard notebooks.