Boeing denies Oracle's claim of 100,000 NC order

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison wowed an audience at the Oracle Users Group Conference in Amsterdam earlier this month when he said Boeing had ordered 100,000 of his much touted but non-existent network computers. But a Boeing spokesman says that's bull.

"We have not ordered 100,000 network computers. We wouldn't be interested in 100,000," says Bob Jorgensen, a spokesman for the Seattle, Washington-based aircraft company which employs 105,000 people worldwide.

Boeing has an "ongoing conversation" with Oracle and is interested in the network computer, but would not need near that many, he says. Currently, 65,000 employees have email and 20,000 have access to the World Wide Web.

"We find that first of all, the biggest number we would have would be 65,000, maybe 70,000 in a few years, but after that a lot of those are shared stations," Jorgensen says. "Somebody riveting in an airplane doesn't have a need for their own PC or a network computer, no matter what the cost would be."

Because of the "network computers' limited application we would have to see this operate, which is probably a year or a year-and-a-half away," he says.

Ellison has championed the idea of a network computer that would cost US$500 or less and allow users to have Internet access and do basic applications like word processing.

An Oracle spokesman acknowledges that Ellison has said that Boeing is interested in buying 100,000 of the network computers, but he refused to confirm the order or its magnitude.

Oracle is at http://ww.oracle.com/.

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