IBM today showed off what it is calling the first Java-dedicated Network Computer (NC) and gave a boost to its PC software subsidiary by saying it plans to bundle Lotus's eSuite Workplace suite of Java applets with the device. eSuite was formerly known by its 'Kona' codename.
Big Blue's Network Station Series 1000 is its third NC line release, complementing March's Series 100 and July's Series 300. The 1000 is positioned as IBM's "first serious Java NC", complementing the data access-only 100 and added browsing power of the 300, said Peter Jakob, marketing manager for the NC business unit at IBM.
The 1000 will ship on December 1 at about £730 + VAT, a few weeks too early for the first shipments of Lotus's eSuite, which contains e-mail, word processing, presentations, calculator/spreadsheet and calendar and Web browser sub-500Kb applets all housed in a simple GUI. Earlybird Series 1000 buyers get a free purchase voucher for eSuite.
Pam Mills, UK desktop product manager at Lotus, said that the software skips some advanced features of Lotus's SmartSuite Windows application suite but is appropriate for 80 per cent of business transaction and general office task workers. Sold standalone, the product will be priced at about £50 upon release and buyers will be able to upgrade software on a subscription basis.
The eSuite DevPak developer toolkit is scheduled for the April-June quarter of 1998 and will be shown at the Lotusphere exhibition held in Florida in February.
IBM's Jakob said that IBM had sold "tens of thousands of Network Stations to over 1,000 customers" this year, and would sell "hundreds of thousands" in 1998.
"If you're the sort of guy coming from a green-screen environment, your choices are to invest in a PC environment or a simpler metaphor that delivers the applications people want without burdening them with infrastructure," Jakob said.