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NCI makes breakthrough into Web-enabled appliance market

By pitching at embedded devices, the company has a target market in the hundreds of millions

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Network Computer Inc (NCI) has made a crucial breakthrough into the embedded market with the release of eNavigator, software for embedded operating systems which allows low-resource hand-held devices and appliances to be used for email, general connectivity and Web access. Effectively, the move into embedded provides NCI with an opportunity to pursue its objectives by alternative, more plausible means. The company has so far failed to achieve great things in terms of the adoption of the Network Computer standard, but by aiming for the appliance first, and building on the ever-increasing need for connectivity and, yes, Web access for a wide range of devices, NCI could be taking Tiger Mountain by strategy. The first licensee for eNavigator, embedded OS developer Wind River Systems, was announced yesterday, and the first device to use the software will be a new version of Fujitsu's InterTop palmtop computer, which has been on sale in Japan for over a year now. The InterTop uses Wind River's VxWorks operating system, and the company intends to offer eNavigator in its Tornado development environment for VxWorks, and to use it to build HTMLWorks and eNavigator for VxWorks. According to Wind River, these will allow OEMs to build Web access, interactivity and graphical device management into embedded devices. The market is however potentially much broader than just plamtops: "We are approaching a point in the digital age when everything from telephones to personal digital assistants will be equipped with software connecting to the Internet," says David Roux, CEO of NCI. He envisages eNavigator "inside of millions of information appliances, ultimately bringing the Internet to people in new and exciting ways." ® Click for more stories

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