Jobs, Ellison Out of Sync on Mac NC Specs

During a speech trumpeting the network computer for the Harvard Computer Society earlier in December, Larry Ellison, Oracle chief executive officer and Apple board member, responded to a question about Apple's role in the NC space by outlining the specs for the Mac NC. But interim Apple CEO Steve Jobs later labelled Ellison's response as 'pretty far off base'.

Apple Computer executives can't seem to get their stories straight about the company's forthcoming network computer specifications, but the company said its NC will not be announced at MacWorld in San Francisco in January.

During a speech trumpeting the network computer for the Harvard Computer Society earlier in December, Larry Ellison, Oracle chief executive officer and Apple board member, responded to a question about Apple's role in the NC space.

Ellison said the Macintosh NC would be available in April, with a near-300MHz processor and a 17-inch screen. The Mac NC will run on the Mac OS and cost less than US$1,000, according to attendees. Ellison added that the NC would not ship with a hard drive, but one could be added to the unit for an additional $100.

Steve Jobs, Apple interim chief executive officer, did not agree.

"Unfortunately, [Ellison] is pretty far off base," Jobs stated in an e-mail. "Maybe he is trying to deflect interest from what we are really doing."

However, not correcting Ellison, Jobs only stated, "We are not ready to talk about future products."

Ellison did not respond to several requests for comment on Jobs' statement.

One analyst said Apple does not need to be concerned about missing the NC boat.

"I think Apple is smart to avoid that market initially," said James Staten, an analyst at Dataquest, in San Jose, California.

Staten said NCs have yet to take off, and most companies are initially targeting corporate markets, whereas Apple will be making its NC announcement as part of an education push in second quarter of 1998.

"I don't think that market has even thought about NCs yet," Staten said.

Staten added that Apple's entry would legitimize the NC market within the education market to many people, due to the company's strong education ties.

As for what specifications will be featured in the Mac NC, Staten said he does not even think Apple is that far along with development yet.

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