---

VNU Net: Gateway teams with AOL to roll out net devices

By Jan Howells, VNU Net

PC maker Gateway has joined up with America Online (AOL) to roll
out a range of inexpensive consumer appliances designed to
facilitate easy access to the internet from every room in the
house.

Gateway is the first of a number of companies to launch devices
built on Netscape’s Gecko, which forms the core of AOL’s Netscape
6.0 internet browser. IBM, Nokia, Intel, Sun, Redhat, Netobjects
and Liberate have all confirmed that they are also building
appliances based on the technology.

Peter Ashkin, Gateway’s chief technology officer, showed off
three initial consumer devices
at Internet World 2000 in Los
Angeles yesterday that will all run the Linux operating system
and be powered by Gecko. The devices comprise a countertop
appliance, a webpad and a cut price internet terminal.

“The number one reason people buy PCs is to experience the
internet. These devices will add to the convenience of their PCs
and give them access to services from anywhere in the home,” Ashkin
claimed.

Steve Case, AOL’s chief executive, added: “These new initiatives
are part of our ‘AOL anywhere’ strategy of embedding the efficiency
and convenience of the internet into people’s everyday lives.”

The devices are expected to cost less than $500 each. The
countertop appliance comes with a touch panel screen, stylus and
wireless keyboard, and will ship in the US this autumn.

The webpad, which comes with a base station and includes a
digital camera and multimedia speakers, will go on sale in 2001 as
will the internet terminal. This is intended to make it very cheap
for users to access the internet.

At the same time, Gateway and Compaq also announced that they
would ship Netscape 6.0 as standard on their PCs from this autumn.
Kodak likewise plans to distribute Netscape 6.0 as part of its CD
programme.