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Oracle's NC Mk.2 heads for UK

Did you say BritNic?

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This story was first filed on 9 May, 2000 by Annie Kermath.

The home of Oracle's reborn NC is in San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf district, a stone's throw from Ripley's 'Believe It or Not' Museum. It's just as well then that Oracle CEO Larry Ellison spent his portion of yesterday's launch of the NIC denying that the new $199 device was a PC killer. ThinkNic also let slip that a device was headed for the UK market, but not without some adjustments.

The NIC is an almost-diskless 266MHz PC that boots via Linux directly into a Netscape browser. We say 'almost' because the device comes with 4MB of EPROM Flash memory for storing cookies and bookmarks locally. A modem and network adapter are included, but that's pretty much it.

ThinkNic said a version tailored for the UK, which it dubbed a BritNic, was on the cards and hinted you should expect UK prices to reflect exchange rates, rather than the more cynical 1:1 conversions we're used to. The first model is targeted at the education market, with a general consumer version to follow towards the end of the year.

"The PC is a fuller experience for word-processing, spreadsheets and for photo-editing," said new CEO Gill Smith. "We're positioning it as a replacement for email and internet access." ThinkNic spun the failed NC Mark One - Believe It or Not! - as a "valuable learning experience".

The problem isn't so much that the reborn NC is relying on a new and untested software platform - Java.

No, this time round the Oracle device isn't the only appliance game in town, and is up against a host of dedicated Internet appliances. These solid state devices such as the QNX-based iOpener, the AOL/Gateway Linux appliance and clutch of BeIA-based devices such as the Cubit and Compaq's upcoming BeIA box that can boast higher reliability - with no moving parts - and more convenience - instant on - than the NIC.

Not one of the server side administration benefits of the Java/NC - claims that sent Wintel racing into such ill fated initiatives as Intellimirror and the NetPC - were repeated on this occasion.

Register Note

Gulf War hero General Colin Powell was on hand to pay tribute to Ellison as "a young-man who at one time could have been an 'at-risk' kid" - buying into Ellison's frequently-repeated characterisation of himself as a kid from the poor side of the tracks. But how much less damage would Larry have done if he'd gone into a life of petty larceny such as car-theft, and not headed for serious crimes... such as founding Oracle. ®

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