I have been looking into getting a new laptop with a UMTS/HSDPA card built-in, and spoke with the Lenovo sales support today. Firstly they don’t know much about which cards go into which machines (so I won’t know which will work both in the US and Europe), secondly they do not give out unlock to make them work with-out Cingular or Verizon.
With the pricing of the machines (that is fine for the quality though), the provider do not even subsidize the machines, but still manage to create a lock-in, where Lenovo refuses to give out lock-codes.
So Lenovo basically sells Laptops to customer that pay for the hardware, get a locked WWAN card that they only can use with a certain provider.
The thing is there are lot’s of providers, outside of the US, and if you live there or just want to use your Thinkpad there you are out of luck, seems like either the Operators are going to put the laptop industry to a grinding halt for innovations (or their use) just as they have done for mobile phones.
Well, operators are just happy giving customers this experience, and Lenovo do not care to much about selling additional machines for European customers (or people roaming in Europe), they offer some options with Vodafone, but Vodafone is not even in all countries in Europe, and only offers the Thinkpad 3G locked-in solution in a few. So even though Lenovo was the first in the world to sell laptops with built-in 3G, in most countries in Europe it was first introduced from other manufacturers a year later. And still is not available in most European countries.
This is the pace of innovation in the world of GSM operators, so just as somebody said in their presentation on Von Spring Europe 2007 this week, “The biggest problem with GSM is the operators”.