Corel has announced a strategic investment of up to 30% in OE/ONE.com, a Linux consumer appliance startup founded by former Corel executive Eid Eid. The deal also includes a development partnership that will enable OE/ONE.com to leverage Corel's office, graphics, and consumer-oriented Linux software developments.
OE/ONE.com plans to license appliance designs to consumer electronics vendors in Japan, Taiwan and Europe, as well as to ISPs and service providers in the U.S. "Consumer electronics vendors completely missed the personal computer market," says Eid, "And they have nearly missed the Internet market as well. This will enable them to catch up in the post-PC era."
OE/ONE.com's designs include a software tool kit, specifications and an industrial design. The company is working closely with what it calls top-tier OEMs to develop the inexpensive consumer devices. Eid expects a working device to exist within seven months, with the first commercial offerings expected to ship before 2001 at prices as low as $500.
At the low-end, OE/ONE.com-based devices will include an x86 processor in the 300MHz range, a 4GB drive and 32MB of RAM. Higher-end devices will include support for multimedia technologies such as DVD, mp3 and TV Tuner cards, and will offer what Eid calls "personalized TV," including the ability to record broadcast video for playback on demand.
The devices will be extremely easy to use, with all configuration handled through a Web browser interface. They will offer non-technical users a full range of Internet services, and will support such advanced Internet technologies as IP telephony, Adobe Acrobat, Real Video and Macromedia Flash. Additionally, OE/ONE.com and/or its partners will take charge of ongoing maintenance, upgrades and backups, and will offer users 100MB of roaming storage.
Eid notes that the OE/ONE.com design enables partners to customize its devices much more completely than, for example, Microsoft products would allow. "We offer partners the ability to customize 100% of screen real estate, without recompiling anything," says Eid.
Eid adds, "OE/ONE.com is proud of its Linux roots. We plan to open source all of our technologies except those licensed from Corel and other third parties." He expects OE/ONE.com's DVD and digital TV developments to be its most significant contributions to the open source community.
A veteran of the post-PC era, Eid formerly led the development of the Corel Netwinder as founder and president of Corel Hardware. The Netwinder is a server appliance based on the low-power ARM chip. It was subsequently sold to Hardware Computing Canada, which was later renamed Rebel.com.
In addition to OE/ONE.com, Corel's Linux affiliates include Rebel.com, GraphOn, LinuxForce Inc. and Newlix Corporation.