Price points for the emergent network computer (NC) are becoming clearer.
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison last week announced a partnership with Indianapolis-based RCA at its Openworld exhibition in San Francisco. The RCA machine, which won’t be available until the middle of 1997, will retail for $US300 or about $NZ435. This is considerably less than the original price figure touted for NCs of about $US500 ($NZ750).
The RCA product will allow users to view the Web over their television, use email, and bank and shop over the Internet.
The RCA product is the cheapest NC-type product going to market in the coming year but it will have competition. Japan-based Akai will also roll out a television-linked NC, retailing for US$349 (around NZ$500). This will include a Java-enabled browser, plus the ability to run Java-based applets such as word processing and scheduling, as well as games.
Another NC, called Janesa, is being produced by Funai. Pricing for this machine is not clear yet, but it appears Funai is looking at slightly less than the $US500. Another company about to produce a similar device is Proton.
These link-ups are also a clear signal that at the consumer level, the NC is going to be sold with other home appliances rather than through PC channels. The impact on a number of smaller resellers, many of which are already operating on wafer thin margins, is likely to be fatal.
Meanwhile, Acorn has been licensing and developing NC systems for the corporate market and is already shipping to companies developing their NC strategies. Prices are said to be less than $US400.
In contrast, NCD’s Explora, which is already available in New Zealand from Auckland-based BCL, costs about $NZ2000 and IBM’s Net Station, due here at the end of the year, will sell for about $NZ1000.