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The Age of the Internet Appliance?

Techstination feature for Monday, October 23, 2000

Is the age of the Internet appliance really coming? I'm Fred Fishkin with Bloomberg Bootcamp. All of the major players seem to be joining in. The latest is 3Com with a device it calls Audrey...

"Audrey is really a whole new category of Internet appliance. And that is to say we started with primary research, observing everyday life in people's homes, asking them very simple questions like... when you get up in the morning, what information are you looking for."

3Com VP Don Fotsch. With a sleek, futuristic design... in colors named in the Apple Computer fashion... Audrey connects to the Web through any Internet service provider you already have... using either a dial-up modem or broadband. It's ease of use, says Fotsch, makes it akin to a Palm handheld computer... for your desk...

"Audrey does for the household what Palm does for the individual in terms of calendaring and address book and so forth. The second thing is instant access to compelling content like we have here with the channel button. And you can see, in this case we're looking at weather, and we're able to get the current weather conditions and the four day forecast that's zip code specific."

While it sounds ideal for beginners, 3Com believes the real market for the 500 appliance is primarily in households that already have a PC. Audrey is just the first in 3Com's Ergo line of net appliances. IDC forecasts the market for these kinds of machines will grow to 17.8 billion dollars within the next four years. Bootcamp, I'm Fred Fishkin, Bloomberg News.