Sluggish sales of network computers (NCs) has forced industryrdware from the thin-client idea. champions to distance the thin-client concept from the hardware.
Following a Dataquest report revealing that only 144,000 sub-$1,000 thin clients were sold in 1997, Oracle, Netscape and Sun are now claiming that network computing is no longer about 'network computers' and that the concept has evolved to encompass broader issues.
This comes in the face of NCs failing to match the sales of PCs as predicted two years ago. Dataquest predicts it is unlikely that even half a million NC units will ship this year.
Oracle's product marketing manager, Andrew Bailey, stated: "The hype - which was not least due to Larry Ellison waving a thing called an NC two years ago - is over."
Analyst Robin Bloor predicted: "It will be at least next year before the network computer sales curve rises. Thin-client terminal sales are low because people don't need to throw away their PCs overnight. But take-up of the thin idea is very high if you consider the one million Citrix seats that have already been deployed."
The definition of network computing has now become - broadly - "what you get when you apply internet standards to an existing or new IT system," according to Tim Wort, director of IBM's software business. He includes server centricity, universal client standards, Java, the browser and three-tier computing as the key elements of network computing.
Sun's market development manager, Andy Bush, argued that 63 per cent of companies are using intranet systems compared to 13 per cent in 1996."It is impossible to tell how far corporations have gone with network computing because they want to keep it a competitive secret," he said.
However, the race is still on to cash in on the NC. Corel, for one, has just launched its own version of the thin client.
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