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Strong Demand for Laptops With Built-in Wireless Broadband Connectivity

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The GSM Association (GSMA), and Microsoft have jointly published the results of the first ever consumer study into mobile broadband computing that shows that there is a tremendous addressable but currently untapped market. The study highlights a 70 million unit opportunity, worth some USD50 billion in 2008, for notebook PCs in the high growth, mass market $500 $1000 price range with built in mobile broadband.

The research reveals a gap of potentially 46.5 million units between recent industry analyst forecasts and the new analysis, suggesting that PC manufacturers have yet to deliver the right mobile broadband PCs - bundled with pre-configured mobile connectivity - to appeal to mass market PC buyers. The extensive market research study, undertaken by Pyramid Research, involved more than 12,000 consumer interviews across 13 countries, with input from notebook manufacturers, component companies and chip set suppliers as well as more than 200 field trials.

"With the right form factor, price and 'out-of-the-box' connectivity, the research has unearthed substantial demand for mobile broadband embedded notebooks that is not yet being met," said Rob Conway, CEO of the GSMA. "Now that we understand the market potential and consumers' requirements, we are pleased to communicate the findings to the broader industry eco-system."

PC manufacturers, including Asus, Dell, Fujitsu Siemens, Lenovo, Twinhead and Vestel have welcomed the research report and expressed interest in working with mobile operators and the GSMA to fulfil this market demand.

As mobile operators examine how best to reach potential subscribers, the GSMA and many of its largest operator members are launching a competition to identify devices and manufacturers able to serve the untapped market. Notebook manufacturers and OEMs will be asked to propose new designs that can meet this currently unmet need for mass-market priced mobile broadband notebooks. The winner of the new PC design will be showcased to decision makers within mobile operators that are interested in serving the unmet needs for broadband services on PCs. The winner will be announced at the Mobile World Congress next year.

In their responses, manufacturers will be asked to provide a detailed specification, time to market information, recommended retail price-points, support services and information on how they would work with operators to promote activation, configuration and ease of use. The winning PC will be chosen by a panel of product experts from leading operators, all planning to promote mobile broadband in their own markets, who will select the device which most closely meets consumer needs.

Twelve mobile operators supported and participated in the GSMA/Microsoft market research programme, including: DTAC, Maxis, MTN, Orange, Smart Communications, Telecom Italia, Telefonica O2, TeliaSonera, Turkcell, Vimplecom, Vodafone and Wind.

"Mobile broadband has fabulous potential and promises to transform the communications landscape world-wide," said Dave Williams, CTO of Telefonica O2 Europe and GSM Association Board Member. "This new survey confirms that there is a very real hunger for next generation wireless technologies not only from the industry, but also from businesses and consumers who clearly can't wait to embrace mobile broadband and the benefits it will bring."

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