While the Inspiron Mini's 3G provider hasn't been announced yet, it looks like it's a lock that you'll only be able to access the 3G card in the States with Verizon and Sprint. Why? Dell has just announced that all of their attractive, multi-colored Studio 15 laptops have built-in mobile broadband access. And not to be redundant, but that built-in mobile broadband can only be accessed by Verizon or Sprint customers. There's even a current promotion where you can get a $125 mail-in rebate from Verizon with a 2-year Broadband Acess activation.
I feel strangely torn and strangely wrathful at all this. I welcome the future where mobile broadband is ubiquitous when I buy a laptop: it's about time. But does anyone really want buying a laptop to go down the path of mobile phone lock-ins and carrier subsidies besides, of course, the telecoms?
There's no reason accessing 3G on a laptop needs to be any more complicated than popping in a SIM card. I understand the pure capitalist logic of trying to sell a subsidized laptop to everyone through a two year contact and the promise of Internet everywhere, but a world where laptops are leased from telecoms and have deceptive sticker prices along with obligatory multi-year contracts is not the world any of us should want to live in.