'We can build NCs here'--Oracle

The company which has been the loudest champion of network computers is trying to inspire interest in a local NC manufacturing venture. Oracle New Zealand marketing manager Prashanta Mukherjee says he will approach local firms early next month to gauge interest.

The company which has been the loudest champion of network computers is trying to inspire interest in a local NC manufacturing venture.

Oracle New Zealand marketing manager Prashanta Mukherjee says he will approach local firms early next month to gauge interest. “Every PC manufacturer in the world will make NCs. Forget about whether it’s a threat to the PC or not--it’s a big market.”

If NCs can be manufactured here, Mukherjee predicts half would stay here and the other half would be exported to Asia and other markets. But he also predicts that within two-and-a-half to three years, 70% would be for export and 30% for New Zealand.

He is confident a New Zealand organisation could compete with imports. “There has to be volume to succeed, but I think that not more than 50% will ever be consumed here. It would have to be export-based. I don’t see the cost as being prohibitive.”

But some analysts and local manufacturers doubt the local market is big enough or flexible enough.

Graham Penn, general manager of New Zealand information techology researcher IDC, says New Zealand represents such a small part of the world IT market (about 0.4%) that the opportunities to do something outside the mainstream are limited.

To be innovative, money would need to be put into research and development and that could be prohibitive.

“Of course, you could just make a standard NC, and put it together with no R&D, but then where is your point of differentiation?”

Penn says it is very early days for NCs, with organisations still doing testing and evaluation. He says one influence on NC uptake, which “comes right out of left field”, is the year 2000 problem.

Oracle has already been talking to organisations involved in areas such as health and energy, as well as a government department, which Mukherjee says were all enthusiastic about NCs.

Oracle has been working with Telecom on an NC trial. Telecom technology and marketing manager Cliff Turner hopes the trial will start within the next month.

He says Telecom has an interest in NCs not only from the consumer market, but also its own internal business network. In the consumer market, there is potential for people to be able to connect to services like Telecom Xtra much more easily.

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