The New Internet Computer Company is in discussions with potential European partners to help with the launch of its much anticipated web appliance in the region before the end of the year.
The company yesterday opened its online store to sell the $199 New Internet Computers (NICs) to US consumers. The system, which includes free internet access from US ISP NetZero, comes with a 266Mhz Cyrix-made processor, 64Mb Ram and a 56K modem. The device has no hard disk drive and a version of the Linux operating system runs on a CDRom drive. A monitor is extra, however, adding an extra $129 to the price.
A spokesman for the manufacturer said it was talking to a number of European content providers about providing content for the appliance when it launches in Europe. But he declined to specify when the device would be likely to appear in the region.
"We are looking at local dotcoms that can provide these services. We have several partnerships in the US for news and sports but this content is regional and we are meeting with European providers," said the spokesman. It wants to sign up a number of partners that provide news, weather and shopping features to be the default website to appear when users hit their keyboards' function keys.
The NICs are the latest incarnation of the stripped down network computer (NC) which was originally touted by Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison five years ago. NCs failed to get off the ground because they were too dependent on networks and servers and were unsuccessful at penetrating the Intel and Microsoft desktop duopoly. "The idea was ahead of its time, five years ago. We were in the middle of the PC phase," said the spokesman.
The company is now aiming the machine at the internet appliance market which, according to researcher IDC, will reach $17.8bn and 89 million units worldwide by 2004.
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