"In the past week, the Austin, Texas-based firm has gone from
charging $99 to nearly $400 for the I-opener, an all-in-one
Internet access device that combines an Internet terminal,
keyboard, built-in mouse and 10-inch liquid crystal display (LCD).
Netpliance president Kent Savage said the $99 price was always
designed as a promotional tool. He said company research shows
people are willing to pay between $299 and $499 for a Web
"At the same time, the appliance market is becoming more
crowded. Last month, Intel unveiled its Dot.Station, a Linux-based
Internet appliance. Low-cost PC maker Emachines, among others,
plans to sell an MSN Web Companion, a countertop appliance built
around Microsoft's online service, staring this fall. Doherty said
other consumer electronics firms will enter the market later this
"Many of these other devices cost about the same, and sometimes
more, to manufacture, but the retail price is kept artificially low
through subsidies provided by the monthly service fees. By
contrast, Netpliance has no subsidy plans at the moment.
The company charges $21.95 a month for Internet access but does not
require consumers to subscribe for any specified time period.
The I-opener will not work with other Internet service
providers, however, making a subscription effectively
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