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PC Makers Fight the Netbook Dilemma

"A lot of people have described the netbook as a notebook that gets returned," Baker says. "That's going to be the case for a little while."

Keeping customers happy will mean offering them an experience that is satisfactory and distinct from that of a full-fledged laptop, something PC makers are trying to do by tightening the link between the netbook and the Internet.

Dell has teamed up with, an online storage firm, to create a special service for owners of its Mini 9: the netbook includes 2GB of free online storage, expandable, for a fee, to 25GB.

European telecom firm Vodafone (VOD) has announced it will sell the Mini 9 directly at its stores with built-in broadband wireless connectivity. The company has yet to announce pricing, though the deal suggests that the Mini 9 may be available at a cheaper, subsidized price, similar to cell phone plans, when consumers sign-up for a service contract.

PC vendors have toyed with subsidized plans before, with little success. The rules of the game may now have changed.
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