There are two ways of looking at the current craze for bundling laptops. One view is that it’s all a flash in the pan. The mobile industry, which perennially struggles to interest the public in buying the advanced services it has cleverly designed, has merely repeated its knack for stumbling upon something it can peddle in the short term. Who knows where it’s going and how long it will last, but at least it has found a new trick to keep the wolf from the door.
The second more optimistic view is that we are moving towards a connected world where every electronic device you buy will soon connect automatically to the internet and to other devices. Cameras are being built that will upload pictures, video recordings and footage as soon as you come in range of a wireless device.
It makes a big difference which view of life you take. Just ask Best Buy. There has been chatter in recent weeks that it is going cold on the £1bn deal to buy into Carphone’s retail business – not least because the latter’s shares have fallen so far that Best Buy could do the same deal today for a fraction of the price. Alternatively, many point out that it could buy the whole DSG group for just £600m.
However, there is a world of difference between buying a has-been box shifter stuck in the electrical retailing past and a company that could – note, could – be a natural connector of the future.
Looking around, all manner of companies, from O2 to Nokia, 3 to BT, are spending heavily to position themselves as the nexus in a newly connected world. If they are right, bundled laptops and dongles are not a passing fad. They are the thin end of a new wedge of opportunities.