IBM will outline its plans for a Network Computer at next week?s Comdex/Fall with a device which spans all the available platforms. It will sell all of the products through its two tier distribution model but machines will not begin to arrive in volume until next year.
David McAughtrey will become head of the NC division in the Emea group after working at IBM Hursley throughout this year researching feasibility plans. The software component will be based on the latest version of OS/2 but using the IBM browser to access all platforms. The machines will be aimed at business, consumer and embedded markets.
A source at IBM UK said: ?The machines will work across all platforms including the S/390, the RS/6000s, AS/400s and PCs. They will become generally available next year. This is a uniform NC which will run across all platforms and there will be a consumer demonstration at Comdex by IBM.?
Phillip Carnelly, a senior analyst at research company Ovum, said: ?The low hanging fruit are people with IBM dumb terminals. They have applications running at the moment. There is an argument for putting PCs on instread but that brings management problems. IBM?s got a strong argument for people upgrading.?
He said that a graphical front end will work well on 3270 and 5270 applications and already worked on PCs. ?There may be as many as 50 million potential buyers of an NC sceptical about whether they need PCs,? he said. ?It will be able to run Java and there?s an easy answer for corporate users to their problems.?
The big question was whether Microsoft and Intel will allow IBM to snatch this market, he said. ?They [IBM] have got to get their act together and do it fast. This is what Sun has been saying all along.?
Phillip Carnelly, an analyst at Ovum
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