New York - Nokia's first netbook will be available exclusively through Best Buy during the holiday season at $299 with two-year contract for a $60/month 5GB data plan from AT&T, the companies announced.
Nokia said the price is $599 without the data plan.
The launch of the Booklet 3G is significant for Nokia because it marks the company's entry into the PC market for the first time. For the industry, the launch of the Windows 7 netbook is significant because the device, the company contended, is the first netbook designed from the ground up with mobility as the top design priority.
To enhance mobility, the device offers up to 12 hours of use on a single battery charge with Wi-Fi on, compared with most netbooks' low- to mid-single-digit battery lives, said John Hwang, who headed up the Booklet's design and development team. Nokia also pointed to the netbook's silent-running fan-less operation, combined headphone/microphone jack, embedded 7.2Mbps high speed packet access (HSPA) cellular modem, seamless hand-off from Wi-Fi to 3G, aluminum chassis, light weight of 2.76 pounds and 0.78-inch thickness when closed.
For Best Buy, the launch marks the longest exclusivity period that the retailer has obtained from AT&T for a wireless device, said Allister Jones, who heads up retail strategy and business development for the chain. It follows the announcement of Best Buy's two-week exclusive for the Sprint-network Instinct HD touchscreen phone, marking the longest exclusivity period to date that Best Buy has obtained from Sprint, he said. Both announcements "were major coups for us," Jones said.
The Booklet 3G will be available for presale in Best Buy stores and online beginning Oct.22, the day that the Windows 7 OS officially launches. By Oct. 25, demo units will be available in all 1,050 big-box outlets and more than 50 stand-alone Best Buy Mobile stores. The product will be available for sale in the stores Nov. 15, said Jones.
During the holiday season, AT&T-owned stores will not offer the device. During a press conference here, AT&T embedded devices president Glen Lurie said he wouldn't disclose whether AT&T stores will offer the Booklet 3G after the holidays. Lurie did say additional data plan options would be available for the Booklet "down the road."
The device itself, said Best Buy chief marketing office Barry Judge, "does things no other netbook can do at $299 or $599" and packs quite a bit of laptop functionality, thanks to the Windows OS. The netbook features Atom Z530 processor, 1GB RAM, 160GB hard drive, 10.1-inch 720 display that displays Web pages without left-right scrolling, 1080p-capable HDMI output, hot-swappable SIM card, assisted GPS, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera with microphone, and ability to operate in 3G mode in overseas 2.1GHz-band HSPA networks. "Most netbooks lack HD display," added Jones.
The netbook also comes with select Nokia OVI services, including automatic backup of contacts and content in the clouds. Other included services include OVI maps, which displays the user's GPS location and nearby points of interest, and OVI messaging, which aggregates all of a user's free email accounts for online access through one portal. The device also downloads OVI games and applications, but those are optimized for use on cellphones.
A VoIP kit will be available as an optional accessory.
The U.S. will be one of the first markets to offer the Booklet, said Nokia North America president Mark Louison. To support the U.S. launch, Best Buy will email past customers on Oct. 22, display the Booklet in its own dedicated end-cap display, promote the device in its circular when the device is in stock, and invite Rewards Zone members to a private shopping event when the device is in stock, offering them incentives to buy on the day of the event.