Compaq takes wraps off $US499 Internet device

In a break from what CEO Michael Capellas calls 'big and clunky' PCs, Compaq Computer has launched a new class of Internet devices designed to simplify access to the Internet. First up: the iPaq.

In a move to break from what CEO Michael Capellas calls "big and clunky" PCs, Compaq Computer has launched a new class of Internet devices designed to simplify access to the Internet.

With the introduction of the iPaq, a $499 small form-factor Windows-based device, Capellas said the Compaq is "starting to bypass" the days of the "big and ugly PC that takes up a lot of room." Weighing ten pounds, the iPaq is intended to save room, reduce maintenance, and "redefine Internet access," according to Capellas.

"This is how we are going to access the Internet," said Capellas. "We see this transformation moving very quickly. We haven't even really started to tap the productivity the Internet can bring to you."

Capellas went on to say that he expects the new iPaq to appeal to 15% to 20% of corporate users, with that number increasing to 50% to 60% in the next three years.

In addition to the iPaq, Compaq announced its intention to host a portal site for vertical industries, designed to aggregate both the business and personal aspects of employees' lives. Dubbed business to employee, or B2E, Compaq is hoping the site becomes a destination for professionals in a number of industries including IT, procurement, finance, and sales and marketing.

"This is one Web site to fulfill both the personal and business aspects of our lives," said Mike Winkler, senior vice president and general manager of Compaq's commercial computing group. "It is for using the Web as a personal productivity tool."

Both the iPaq and the Web site are due to become available in the first quarter of 2000. The iPaq will be based on processors ranging from the 500-MHz Celeron all the way up to Pentium III, and will be delivered direct from Compaq in four pre-configured SKUs (stock keeping units).

When asked if he thought the iPaq was simply another attempt at the failed NetPC of two years ago, Winkler said that "the lock-down environment of the NetPC was unacceptable in an empowered employee environment. This obviates those concerns, though it is the next generation of the NetPC concepts."

Compaq, in Houston, is at http://www.compaq.com.

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