Here is a report that just makes me sad. In-Stat predicts that, by 2013, thirty-one percent of all notebooks will be sold through carriers. Why does that make me sad? Because subsidized computers can end up being a lot more expensive than just paying for them up front. “In the US, carriers are charging up to $60 per month for a two year contract with the subsidized purchase of a netbook,” said Jim McGregor, In-Stat analyst. “While the subsidy costs the carrier $50–$100, it generates $1,440 or more in service fees over the life of the contract,” McGregor said. Consumers should be afraid of this trend, and should fight it. We’ve already seen how much power carriers have when they are the gatekeepers to technology. AT&T’s iPhone exclusivity, and the utter powerlessness of dissatisfied customers, is a good lesson in this.

It is growing ever easier to move away from some subscriptions, and without getting all Chris-Anderson-giddy over Free, one must note that consumers are increasingly taking advantage of options for getting around (some) carriers, bypassing cable with Hulu and like sites or replacing mobile with VoiP.

But no matter what, no matter how many communications options -- and how much content -- we get sans payment, most of us in the U.S. are still paying $45 a month for Free. Rupert Murdoch will never understand this.

So, not to say that we’re heading for some economy-optional version of Gordon Moore’s Utopia, but as long as there are ways around paying for some communications services, consumers will have more options than American iPhone owners currently do.

Other In-Stat predictions are that the total available market (TAM) for internet-connected devices will grow at a 22.3 percent compound annual growth rate through 2013, and that the market will be driven by four things: richer content, network access for communications and content, increased bandwidth to enable this access, and new technologies.

By 2013, sixty percent of mobile devices will be sold through carriers, In-Stat predicts.

(Image: Paramount Pictures)

By Mark Alvarez