Corel has announced that it will ship in next year's first quarter a Java-based network computer (NC) that can be used for videoconferencing.
The Corel Video NC is not the software company's first foray into hardware; in August Corel announced it will produce a Java-based personal digital assistant to be available in the second quarter of 1997.
Corel will build its NC around a PowerPC chip from Motorola. The Corel Video NC will run Sun's Java Virtual Machine and will come with Corel Office for Java -- Corel's suite of office applications written for Java.
Although the Corel Video NC has no hard disk, there are two PC card slots to add a floppy disk drive or a hard drive. Corel's NC will also have a built-in speaker and microphone. Users can also plug in a Corel digital camera to play video and have two-way video conversations, officials say.
The Corel Video NC has 16Mb of memory and a 10Mbit/s Ethernet interface.
Corel's move into producing NCs is probably defensive, according to Mike Welch, an analyst at market researcher Inteco, in Woking, England. Corel does not have access to the same distribution channels as IBM or Oracle, and offering an NC may allow it to reach certain accounts through a wider range of value-added resellers.
It is also a way to get a foothold in the NC applications market, before it is sewn up by just a few software publishers, which is what happened in the PC market.
"In the same way that it is difficult for conventional suite providers to get into the PC market, for the NC, you need to get in quick. Implicit in the lowering of the total cost of ownership is that you won't change software every few months," Welch says.
Corel, however, will have a tough job challenging the likes of IBM.
"Initially the NC won't replace the PC; it will replace dumb terminals. IBM can provide an offering to replace its installed base," Welch says.
Corel has not released prices nor said who will build the device.
Based in Ottawa, Corel can be reached at http://www.corel.com/.