The Network Computer

I hear the wackiest things when it comes to the Network Computer and what the world and computing will be like in the coming years and months. I will not claim that I know exactly what will succeed and what is just moonshine, but I will lay out the possibilities for you.

The players are all predictable, everyone in the computer/TV industry. The predictions from the players are relatively the same. A powered down computer will connect the poor, starving huddled masses to the internet with the bare minimum of email and the potential for multimedia web surfing.

Their specs are pretty much the same too. A sealed box, with a proprietary design and a minimalistic operating system, from either Microsoft, Sun or Netscape. This is the general image.

What we are really talking about is a TV with a modem and keyboard.Gateway 2000 is way ahead of their time with their Destination products. The only problem is the high price tag. But this isn’t the only way it’s going to go.

Earlier this year I predicted that PC’s will encroach into the TV market and TV companies like SONY should make their own PC’s as a pre-emptive strike. But this isn’t the only place computers will rear their ugly heads.

Because of current technological hurdles and the sharp drop in hardware costs, computers are expanding into many different aspects of life. Email is just the beginning. The web is just the beginning. In ten years, computers connected via a network will be invisible in our homes but ubiquitous nonetheless.

Video Phones, which were incredibly unpopular in the 80’s because of their poor quality and high price, will suddenly become a real option. Regular phones will become internet phones. Long Distance companies can kiss their ass goodbye within 20 years.

This is actually a revolutionary point in history. Never has so large an industry been threatened so completely by a new technology. (Can YOU think of one? Email me) Long Distance companies arose giving access to people to call out of their local area paying per minute. The internet bypasses that need completely, essentially killing the long distance vendors. Could you imagine this?

Imagine a world where bandwidth has increased worldwide to allow every home in the world to act as a server. With future technology, routers and server equipment may come standard with every PC. It might be called a home entertainment unit then. It would have the TV, the Phone, the Radio…anything really. It might just be called the House. Or the apartment. Every apartment has connectivity.

With every house a server, every home is part of the internet. Video conferencing would be trivial. Movies could be truly on demand. Radio could be broadcast throughout the world. Video recording could be done from any source at any time.

The Network Computer isn’t just a sealed box giving email access for 500 bucks. It’s a step into the future where everything has connectivity. Everything. The PC is expanding into other rooms. Don’t see this product in the near future but rather the not so distant future. We are in for a lot of changes.

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