If Tuesday's Oracle Open World keynote was any indication, the network computer concept will need quite a bit of tweaking before it can gain industry acceptance.
Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison's network computer soapbox was met with faulty demos and audience skepticism.
"I'm not really interested in an NC," said Greg Jackson, a database administrator at Pier 1 Imports in Fort Worth, Texas. NCs, however, may be suitable for at-home users and in stores, he said. "NCs for power users doesn't apply," he added.
Other audience members publicly questioned Ellison about supposed cost savings and accessibility of NCs, and what NCs would mean for job security of technical personnel. But Ellison stood firm, saying NCs would bring down costs and expand the market for computers and technical jobs.
Ellison reiterated that PCs are too complex and costly.
"A PC was never designed to be a network appliance," Ellison said. NCs will be like TV and telephone networks, with simple devices as interfaces and complexities in the background where users do not have to deal with them, he said.
Ellison had attempted an NC demonstration, in which he would send e-mail with a graphical attachment, on stage, but the network failed.
"It was a fiasco," Ellison later said.
Ellison did conduct the demo on a second attempt, after a demo of the Oracle Parallel Server database also did not work. A demo of Web-based television was successful.
Ellison, meanwhile, had dire predictions for rival Informix Software Inc. He questioned Informix's capability for survival, given its financial troubles, and said it was inconceivable that new customers evaluating Oracle and Informix would opt for Informix.
"It's inconceivable to me a company evaluating Oracle vs. Informix would pick Informix when it's fairly certain there will be no Informix," Ellison said.
Ellison sidestepped the question of whether Oracle would buy Informix.
"It sure is cheap enough to buy," Ellison said jokingly. "But it's not that cheap," he added, accenting the word "that." "But it's getting cheaper everyday."
Oracle Corp., in Redwood Shores, California, can be reached at http://www.oracle.com/.