IBM, along with other major system OEMs, appears to be crystallising a thin-client strategy that does not include the NetPC.
IBM was scheduled to deliver its first devices based on the NetPC specification by October. But with the increasingly competitive price performance being offered by Big Blue's network computers on the low end and full-blown PCs on the high end, company officials are growing sceptical about the NetPC's market potential and have delayed delivery of the first devices until "sometime next year," according to one source close to IBM.
"We can deliver to users the functionality of a NetPC through some of the lower-end models in our PC 300 line without a NetPC," says Bill Hughes, a spokesman for the IBM PC, in Somers, New York.
Despite not seeing strong customer demand, Dell will release its NetPC this year.
"It's just a different chassis," says a worldwide product manager at Dell, in Austin, Texas. "Customers said they wanted a full-function PC that they could lock down, not a NetPC that doesn't give them a choice."
Though HP insists it is moving forward with NetPC plans, company executives have criticised the NetPC, calling the concept "dead" and shifting interest onto Windows terminal instead.
Analysts see the NetPC as a marketing tool whose purpose has been to kill the NetPC.
IBM can be reached at http://www.ibm.com.