Compaq has dumped the NetPC as a viable hardware product after admitting that market projections have failed to meet expectations, putting the credibility of the machines further on the line.
The manufacturer has rejected the concept of a PC without a disk drive and is concentrating on the system's intelligent manageability elements - the ability to control and co-ordinate networked PCs from a central point.
The vendor will leave the option of disabling the disk drive to the customer.
It said IDC projections of 10 per cent of the PC market were over-ambitious, as the sector struggles to approach five per cent.
Bob Jackson, vice president of marketing for the desktop PC division at Compaq, told PC Dealer there was no life left in the NetPC.
He commented: 'It was just a passing phase. The market for the original spec is a modest one. It has been more of a herald for the manageability and configuration of the desktop.'
Such features were already on the cards for conventional PCs when Compaq launched its NetPC 11 months ago, as an offensive weapon against the network computer (NC). Compaq was one of the main vendors to back the desktops without disk drives, along with Microsoft and Intel.
Analysts were sceptical of the NetPC from the outset. At the time, Jean Leston, an associate at market researcher Ovum, said: 'It will probably turn out to be an 18-month wonder which will be squeezed to death by top-end PCs and Windows terminals.' She said it shared a 95 per cent overlap with conventional desktops (PC Dealer, 25 June 1997).
But the first sign of cracks in the NetPC strategy appeared when IBM stopped manufacturing the machines last year and concentrated on the NC alternative.
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