It's like babies who learn speech and then learn to write. With telephones, people could communicate with speech; now they can write. Mobile professionals want information on the move. We'll be bookmarking MAID exchange rates software so we'll have a killer application for banking and finance people straight away. For a lot of people, the need for a PC will be gone straight away. I've been using one of these and now I only ever turn on my PC for making [Microsoft] PowerPoint presentations and backing up my Communicator data.
You don't feel uncomfortable with people saying it's an Internet access appliance?
It's built around TCP/IP so we can provide remote access and appeal for businesses looking at Internet and intra-net solutions. No-one's going to casually surf the Web with it. You can if you want but it's more for specific Internet requirements. I needed to find the Cirrus Logic site the other day and I could, very easily. What it's good for is bookmarking sites you really need and going straight to them.
What about partnerships?
We haven't refused to speak to anyone. The only network we haven't got is CopmpuServe; we want to provide the most widespread Internet access possible.
What do you expect the competition to do?
We've probably got a lead of six months. I'd expect competitive products then. Whether they cover the ground we do is impossible to say.
What plans do you have for future versions?
When we built the 9000 we went in for enormous customer research; effectively it was built to a custom specification and there are already two active Web sites for users to comment. We'll wait for the feedback from our user base, but we feel it's already part of a product family. We feel that communicators sit nicely somewhere in among telephones, PDAs, comms hardware and laptops.