Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle, confirmed details of its NC strategy at a joint press conference in San Francisco on Monday, bolstered by a battery of vendors that have joined the bandwagon.
At the conference, hosted by Sun, IBM, Netscape, Apple and Oracle, Ellison introduced a raft of hardware suppliers including Olivetti, Tatung, Mitsubishi, Nokia and Acer. BT and France Telecom will join the players to provide telecoms infrastructure.
As predicted in PC Dealer last week, IBM, Netscape and Sun will collaborate on a specification for the NC. But Ellison has separated the project from the rest of Oracle business by spinning off a separate subsidiary.
Called Network Computer Inc, the division will be headed by Jerry Baker, a senior VP formerly in charge of platforms and technologies at Oracle.
This will insulate Oracle's core business if the NC fails to take off at the speed Ellison wants.
That may take quite a while, said Phillip Williams, senior analyst at IDC. 'He still has a lot more persuading to do, even with the rise of the Internet. People would be ditching their PCs and they're not doing that. This will be a niche product for some time,' he said.
Williams agreed it was significant that neither MS nor Intel had joined the platform. 'Intel is quite happy with the situation at the moment and doesn't want to rock the boat,' he said.
Bill Gates, Microsoft CEO, initially scorned the concept of the NC, but his firm is now attempting to create a similar device of its own.
Although the list of vendors supporting the NC looks impressive on paper, only one non-Asian company, Sun River Data Systems, will make the product.
Olivetti could be said to have an interest as it still has a share in Acorn, which in turn has a joint share in the Arm chip.
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