Smartphones or NCs?
Copyright © 1996 to Bruce Simpson

The much touted Network Computer may never see the light of day in its presently proposed form.

Why? - Because it's more likely that it'll be turned into a smart telephone!

What are the vast majority of users looking for in a technical appliance? Ease of use! Will a NC be easy to use? I doubt it.

Just look at the average video recorder... how many people even know how to set the clock let alone use anything other than Play, Stop, FastForward, Rewind, Record and Eject? Let's face it - most of this extra functionality simply gets wasted by the average user who would rather rely on remembering to press record at a particular time than learn how to set the record timer.

And so it may be with the NC. Given the choice between using something called a "Telephone" and something called a "Network Computer", which do you think the average technophobe will go for?

Email is the internet's "killer app" and all that the vast majority of people need is a cheap, simple and convenient email facility. Ever noticed how so many people are happy to leave a 10Kbyte email message if they can't get you on the phone but they won't utter a single sylable into your answerphone or voice-mail system?

The sooner someone can come up with a Smart Phone that lets you send and receive email (preferably with handwriting or voice recognition) then the sooner we'll see the "masses" embracing email as an everyday communications mechanism.

In the meantime, the NC may become a corporate money-saver, replacing expensive PCs on business desktops - but it won't find much acceptance in the home or small office.

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