Online storage and synchronization services. ASUS announced recently that customers in Taiwan would get free online storage for one year with the purchase of an Eee PC. After the year is up, presumably, they can stop using the service or pay a monthly fee. I think this is bass-ackwards.
A new breed of online storage and synchronization services, including SugarSync, Syncplicity, DropBox, FolderShare, Carbonite, Mozy, Upline and others are all trying to make money in their own over-crowded niche. The two were made for each other, because mini-notebooks are almost always secondary systems. By definition, anyone with a mini-notebook needs to synchronize files with their PC, or at least needs online storage. One of these companies is going to figure out that giving away a laptop along with a two-year commitment is a compelling way to beat the competition.
Software. Hundreds of companies make vertical applications or applications suites for specific types of professions, and sell these software titles for hundreds or thousands of dollars. Its only a matter of time before they start selling their software already installed on a mini-notebook. Imagine, for example, a suite of Real Estate applications pre-installed on an ASUS Eee PC, where agents could check listings and do all their work from anywhere. Or insurance. Or sales.
Non-technology related products and services. Vacation packages, new cars, bank accounts (like in Canada) you name it. Mini-notebooks will become the new toaster, and will become popular giveaways for raffles, radio programs, universities trying to lure freshmen, and others.
I'm not saying all "mini me too" laptops will be free. I'm saying they'll be priced like cell phones. That means the low end of the market will be free, the mid-range will be heavily subsidized ($50 to $100, plus you have to agree to buy some service or product) and the yet-unannounced Apple product will be over-priced and totally unsubsidized.
It's a wonderful time to be a nerdy cheapskate.