11/12/2008 11:09:00 AM
Carphone to recall own-brand mini laptops
Carphone Warehouse is recalling its own-brand mini laptops from all of its stores, after it was discovered that customers found the unfamiliar operating system confusing.
The ‘webbook’ devices are understood to have had a high level of returns (as much as 20% in some areas), prompting a decision to call back the Linux-based devices and refit them with the more expensive Windows XP operating system.
One source close to the matter said there were no faults with the device and that it was ‘simply an issue of consumer understanding’. It is believed it will cost the retailer around £25 per unit for the extra licensing to add Windows XP. A ‘home version’ of XP for a single licence costs £40.
The webbooks were made through the computer firm Elonex for Carphone and were first unveiled in July this year after an initial order of 60,000 units. It is believed that each unit cost the retailer £200.
The devices had been bundled for free on a range of fixed and mobile broadband subscriptions, particularly on 3’s mobile broadband. The source added: ‘The webbooks were selling well; it’s just that customers preferred XP.’
The 10.2-inch screen webbook had been Carphone’s entry into the laptop market, but has now been joined by the likes of the Asus 701 mini laptop and products from Toshiba and Sony.
Retail staff at Carphone stressed there had been strong interest in the mini laptops from a younger generation of consumers.
Phones 4u has attempted to build a laptop range with devices from Asus, Fujitsu-Siemens, Sony and Toshiba, and several operators have launched own-brand mini laptops. Orange has unveiled Asus devices, and Vodafone is selling Dell laptops with built-in mobile broadband.
Carphone declined to comment.