Dell has signed a deal with a U.K. mobile phone retailer to distribute free laptops with the purchase of a broadband Internet access subscription, continuing the company's push into the retail market. Starting in September, consumers who buy a two-year contract for America Online's broadband service through the Carphone Warehouse Group will get a coupon for a free base-model Inspiron notebook from Dell. AOL broadband costs £19.99 ($41) per month.
A similar free laptop offering was unveiled this week by mobile provider Orange UK, a move designed to get consumers who may have never owned a computer or bought broadband service using the Internet in order to grow subscriber numbers, said Jonathan Coham, an analyst at Ovum. Those customers tend to be older and are more loyal. But it won't come cheap for those operators. "These are very low-margin customers for the time being," Coham said. "Both Orange and Carphone Warehouse are going to make a slim amount of money on top of what they are getting from the broadband subscriber."