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Verizon to ape AT&T with netbook sales

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US cellco giant Verizon Wireless will begin selling netbooks before the middle of the year.

According to multiple news outlets, the company will roll out some sort of 3G-enabled, low-cost laptop by the end of the second quarter - or possibly by the beginning of June.

The company has not responded to requests for comment, but a spokeswoman has confirmed the plans to InternetNews.com and others.

The company has not said who will manufacturer the netbooks, how much they will cost, or what sort of wireless contract they'll be paired with. Vodafone - one of Verizon's parent companies - has been offering Dell netbooks to European customers since September. But The Boy Genius Report has uncovered a Verizon approved device list that indicates the carrier's new netbook is an HP Mini 1000.

Subsidized netbooks are widely available from European wireless carriers, and now, the US has seen fit to follow suit. Verizon competitor AT&T is already selling an Acer Netbook through Radio Shack retail stores, pricing the device at $99 with a two-year wireless contract. And in January, it offered a $350 mail-in rebate if you purchased a $449 Dell Mini 9 with a two-year contract.

Google's Willy Wonka insists that subsidized netbooks will one day bring Linux to the Joe Consumer promised land. "[Netbooks] today are not completely done. Things are missing," Eric Schmidt told an analyst conference last month. "It's perfectly possible that operating systems that are Linux-based will become a significant player in that space, whereas they have historically not been a significant player in the PC space." ®

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