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AT&T Subsidizing Notebooks with 3G Service, In Talks with Apple?

AT&T has been exploring the possibility of heavily subsidizing the cost of netbooks by bundling 3G data contracts. The sales model has been well established amongst mobile phones, including Apple's own iPhone 3G. Consumers who agree to the two-year 3G data contract could find their netbooks discounted to $99 or less. AT&T explored this model in a deal with Radio Shack who offered an Acer netbook for only $99 over the holidays:

As president of AT&T's new Emerging Devices division, [Glenn] Lurie hopes to do a lot more of those deals. His mission is to get just about everything except phones connected to AT&T's broadband network -- laptops, GPS devices, cars, games, medical equipment, "all the way to dog collars," he quips.

AT&T's Lurie reports that they are in talks with "lots of folks" and specifically says that he "would very much like to do more business with Apple."

While AT&T presently provides exclusive service to Apple's iPhone 3G, Apple has yet to support any built-in data services with their notebooks. If Apple were to introduce a netbook (a possibility they've downplayed) with built-in 3G networking, such subsidies could bring customers' up front costs down by several hundred dollars.