A growing number of 3G wireless providers including AT&T and Verizon in the US and Orange, Vodafone, and Carphone Warehouse in Europe are beginning to offer subsidized netbooks to customers who sign up for long term service plans. The deals work much the same way as cellphone subsidies. A netbook may normally cost $400, but when you sign up for a 2 year contract, you can get it for $99 or less.
But netbooks aren’t cellphones. They’re laptops. And while a wireless carrier can charge you a fee and disable your cellphone service if you stop paying your bill, the repercussions for breaking a netbook wireless contract aren’t as great. You’ll still have a fully functional computer. Or will you?
The AP is reporting that LM Ericsson AB, a company that makes 3G modems plans to build a new feature into upcoming wireless modules that will let carriers send a signal to a customer’s netbook that makes it impossible to turn the computer on. An Ericsson VP says the feature is called a “kill pill.”
It’s not clear yet whether any wireless carriers will actually use this new feature. But I can imagine a lot of ways for this to go horribly, horribly wrong. I kind of hope it’s an early April Fool’s joke.
via The Inquistr