Cliff Edwards and Ian King
13 Apr 2010
Broadcom Corp., the biggest supplier of chips for television set-top boxes, said phone companies around the world will soon offer free or subsidized tablet-style computers to retain customers.
Broadcom’s Persona Tablet design and chips are the basis for the Hikari iFrame, a tablet distributed by Japan’s Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp., Broadcom Vice President Martyn Humphries said in an interview. NTT’s counterparts in Europe will follow later this year and in the U.S. next year, he said.
Apple Inc.’s iPad, which researchers say contains some Broadcom chips, has fired up interest in tablet computers among consumers. Phone and Internet service providers may try to tap into that demand with free or cheap tablets that improve access to entertainment and communications offerings as a way of stopping their customers from looking elsewhere.
“Apple’s created the big buzz today, but some of the carrier developments have also been going on in parallel,” Humphries said. “The biggest value to the carrier is he starts to maintain more customer loyalty.”
Wireless carriers typically offer free or subsidized mobile phones to customers who sign contracts to pay monthly service fees over a long-term period, often two years.
Humphries, speaking at a product demonstration in San Francisco, declined to name potential U.S. and European phone companies that might offer free tablets with Broadcom chips, citing confidentiality agreements.