US consumers can now buy the long-awaited $199 New Internet Computers (NICs) touted by Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison, but only through Amazon's auction facility.
Ten of the web devices have been released to Amazon for customers to bid for on the bookseller's US website. The systems were originally launched by the New Internet Company in May and only available for buyers who would donate them to schools. General availability is expected at the end of this month.
Each NIC comes with a 266Mhz Cyrix-made processor, 64Mb RAM and a 56K modem. There is no hard disk drive and a version of the Linux runs on a CDRom drive.
The system is the latest incarnation of the original $500 network computer, which failed to make a dent in the market against the falling prices of Intel PCs running Microsoft Windows. The original system was manufactured by Network Computer, which was later morphed into Liberate Technologies and now sells internet software for TV set-top boxes.
Bidding for one of the 10 systems began yesterday and will end on Monday. The opening price was $1 and by late afternoon US time, 78 people had bid for the system with the highest bid at $300.
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