Oracle plans to spin off another new company in Europe and Japan to make it easier for consumers to use cellular telephones to access the Internet.
The move follows its establishment of Network Computer (NCI) as a separate company in 1996. The organisation changed its name to Liberate in May this year to sell settop boxes for TVs rather than to market network computers (NCs) to replace PCs and went public soon afterwards. It now has a market capitalisation of $5 billion.
Larry Ellison, Oracle's chairman and chief executive, also let slip in July this year that the firm had set up a second company to sell Intel based NCs running the Linux open source operating system and Netscape Communicator browser.
The new business, he said on Tuesday at the CRM and Support Services conference in San Francisco, will assume the NCI name and plans to assemble the machines itself. They will come with 64Mb of memory, cost $199 and be marketed to the corporate sector as a PC replacement.
Ellison continued that he had no plans at the moment to take the company public, but explained the rationale of coming out with a second generation of NCs: "Users will have Linux and Netscape on a CD and they'll load them when they want to use them. They'll be desktop computer replacements because the new network computer is focused on making the Internet unbelievably easy to use - you'll just turn it on."
He continued: "I'm also enthralled with the new generation of digital phone. Cellular telephony is much better in Europe than the US and lots of free services will be offered with it in future. You can expect announcements from Oracle in the near future, but phones are becoming one of the ways to access the Internet."
"It would be surprising if there wasn't a spin off in Europe, where we're working with local partners. If there's a phone.com in the US, there should be a europhone.com in Europe, but the services will be more advanced," he added.
Oracle is working with Telia in Norway and Nokia in Finland, Ellison explained, to create digital wallets for cell phones to enable users to buy and sell stocks and receive immediate notifications if circumstances such as travel arrangements change so they can deal with the situation.
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