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-- by Jim Forbes
Despite the lack of products, the nascent network computer (NC) field is buzzing with activity. The buzz intensified in May as database giant Oracle-which last year launched subsidiary Network Computer Inc. (NCI) specifically for this market-acquired Navio, the Netscape spin-off created to develop software for Internet appliances. The terms of the agreement call for the new entity to combine engineering, marketing and product development efforts.
The two companies had different reasons for making the deal. Oracle was, and is, determined to promote its vision of the NC as a viable alternative to the PC-and to Microsoft. Netscape, meanwhile, wants to save its money for its core businesses: Internet and intranet servers and clients. Moreover, Navio's consumer orientation could push NCI-created primarily to sell Java terminals to corporate America-in a new direction.