- The Washington Times - Monday, August 31, 2009

NEW YORK | Nokia Corp., the world’s largest maker of cell phones, said last week that it will start making a small, light laptop, similar to ones PC manufacturers are already selling through wireless carriers around the world.

The Finnish company says the Nokia Booklet 3G will run Microsoft Corp.’s Windows software, have a 10-inch screen and weigh 2.8 pounds. That puts it squarely in the “netbook” category pioneered by Taiwanese manufacturers like AsusTek Computer Inc.

Nokia said it would reveal the price and launch date of the PC on Sept. 2. Most netbooks sell for less than $500.

Nokia said its PC would be “satisfying a need” among wireless carriers. AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless have started selling netbooks in their stores, subsidizing the purchase for customers who sign up for wireless broadband plans. Sprint Nextel Corp. has started subsidizing netbooks sold at Best Buy. In Europe, many carriers started selling netbooks last year.

AT&T discounts bundle in cable race

NEW YORK | AT&T Inc. has started offering its first bundle discount for customers who combine its U-Verse TV service with wireless and broadband.

AT&T said Monday that customers who sign up for U-Verse TV and a cell phone plan for at least 450 minutes per month, or for U-Verse phone service, will get $30 per month off broadband for six months.

The offer is available only in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio, but it will expand to other U-Verse markets in the next few weeks, the Dallas-based company said. U-Verse is available to about 13 million households.

AT&T has previously provided monthly discounts to people who have signed up for wireless service and non-U-Verse broadband at home.

Verizon Communications Inc., the second-largest phone company after AT&T, started providing bundle discounts with its TV service and broadband service last year.

Microsoft app access for non-smart phones

SEATTLE | Microsoft Corp. is giving people with regular cell phones access to the same kinds of programs that smart phone owners have embraced.

Microsoft’s OneApp software, announced Monday, is aimed at developing countries where so-called “feature phones” and prepaid systems are prevalent.

Microsoft’s first partner is Blue Label Telecoms Group of South Africa, which sells prepaid cell phone minutes. In a few weeks, Blue Label customers will be able to download OneApp just as they would getting a new ringtone. OneApp will come with a preselected set of about a dozen programs — or “apps,” in current slang — including Facebook, Twitter and the software maker’s own Windows Live Messenger.

Because many phones have limited storage, OneApp stores some information on central servers rather than the device and sends it out only when necessary.

Future wireless partners will be able to pick different programs to distribute with OneApp, Microsoft said. In that sense, OneApp isn’t quite an “app store,” a central shop for mobile users to pick and choose which apps they download. Such stores have become popular since one for Apple Inc.’s iPhone became a big reason to buy the pricey gizmos.

Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft did not disclose the financial arrangements with Blue Label, and Amit Mital, a Microsoft corporate vice president, would not say how OneApp plans to make money.

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