Yesterday, IBM announced the Network Station, a 2.5-pound unit without hard disk , floppy drive, CD- ROM drive or monitor, and measuring just 8 x 10 x 1.25 inches. The system ships with a PowerPC CPU, 8Mb RAM (expandable to 64Mb), on-board network adapter, keyboard, and mouse. A custom version of Netscape Navigator, built by Netscape spin-off Navio, is built in. IBM and Siliocn Valley firm NCD will make the product. The unit will cost $700 in the US, suggesting a price of about £500 for the UK.
The product is targeted at a business audience accessing data held on servers, the Internet, and intra-nets, and supports IBM's groupware gem, Lotus Notes. Like many NC supporters, IBM will push the device as a low-maintenance alternative to the PC, or a more advanced replacement for the dumb terminal. IBM claims that NCs will work out 50-75 per cent cheaper than PCs, and claims that the 35 million terminals in use today could all be replaced by products like the Network Station.
"We've had various flavours of thin client in trials with customers," said an IBM UK spokeswoman. "We see the Network Station as providing the best growth opportunity but there will be consumer products in the future."
A new division for Europe, the Middle East and Africa has also been set up for NCs, led by former OEM business manager David McAughtry. The division will operate out of IBM's South Bank, London office.