Silicon Valley rumours suggest that Apple is set to make a major thrust into the network computer (NC) market as it prepares to close down its Advanced Technology Group and Quality Assurance division.
A complete NC strategy is believed to one of the "drastic changes" that Apple?s acting chief executive Steve Jobs has in mind for the ailing supplier. According to sources close to the company, the strategy is likely to be announced at the Mac Expo show in January next year.
The strategy will involve Apple producing low cost Intel-based devices that will provide Internet access from the desktop with a native Virtual Java Machine. The NCs will be targeted at the education and business markets, which are seen as the two markets with most potential for the NC, as well as being traditional Apple customer bases.
Jobs is undoubtedly supported by newly recruited Apple board member Larry Ellison, chief executive of Oracle and the industry?s leading NC evangelist. When Ellison mounted his aborted takeover bid for Apple earlier this year, he enraged the Macintosh faithful by declaring that Apple would make an ideal manufacturer of NCs.
Meanwhile, Apple?s Advanced Technology Group, which concentrates on pure research, is believed to be heading for closure next month as the company shifts attention from esoteric research to short term deliverables.
In addition, the Reliability and Quality Assurance Group will also close in a bid to shift the functional testing phase of development into the design centres. It is hoped that this will speed up the time to market of new products without impacting on their quality.
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