PC maker Gateway has joined up with America Online (AOL) to roll out a range of inexpensive consumer appliances designed to facilitate easy access to the internet from every room in the house.
Gateway is the first of a number of companies to launch devices built on Netscape's Gecko, which forms the core of AOL's Netscape 6.0 internet browser. IBM, Nokia, Intel, Sun, Redhat, Netobjects and Liberate have all confirmed that they are also building appliances based on the technology.
Peter Ashkin, Gateway's chief technology officer, showed off three initial consumer devices at Internet World 2000 in Los Angeles yesterday that will all run the Linux operating system and be powered by Gecko. The devices comprise a countertop appliance, a webpad and a cut price internet terminal.
"The number one reason people buy PCs is to experience the internet. These devices will add to the convenience of their PCs and give them access to services from anywhere in the home," Ashkin claimed.
Steve Case, AOL's chief executive, added: "These new initiatives are part of our 'AOL anywhere' strategy of embedding the efficiency and convenience of the internet into people's everyday lives."
The devices are expected to cost less than $500 each. The countertop appliance comes with a touch panel screen, stylus and wireless keyboard, and will ship in the US this autumn.
The webpad, which comes with a base station and includes a digital camera and multimedia speakers, will go on sale in 2001 as will the internet terminal. This is intended to make it very cheap for users to access the internet.
At the same time, Gateway and Compaq also announced that they would ship Netscape 6.0 as standard on their PCs from this autumn. Kodak likewise plans to distribute Netscape 6.0 as part of its CD programme.
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