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Technology / AI and automation


NetChannel Inc, a company formed by Acorn Computer founder Hermann Hauser last March – but unheard of until now – will develop a suite of entertainment and information services to supply to users of Network Computers, when they become available in the fall. NetChannel is separate from NChannel Ltd, the British company Hauser formed to sell and distribute Acorn Computer Group Plc’s NetStation Network Computer (CI No 2,937). Palo Alto, California-based NetChannel will become in effect a service provider, levying a $20 or less monthly charge. The company promises that its offerings will become just another channel on your television, but offering very easy to use Web access. For instance, the interface will eliminate the need to type ‘http’ or ‘www’ or other things that virgin Internet users could find intimidating, according to Harriett Donnelley, VP marketing. Details of what the content might be were not forthcoming, other than that not surprisingly, entertainment, information and electronic mail would be the focus. The browser would take users to relevant sites based on a profile they complete. Although extremely friendly with Oracle Corp, NetChannel was at pains to emphasize that its services will be available to any box complying with the NC Reference Profile set of standards (CI No 2,918), not just Oracle-designed ones. But Oracle will be endorsing NetChannels’ offerings and NetChannel will be one of its launch partners. Hauser’s other NC baby, NChannel, will only sell the Oracle-designed box for the time being, and only in the UK. But an Acorn-related company will be assigned to sell the thing in the US, though it is not clear yet whether a company will be formed for the purpose or not, though that seems likely. And when it is launched, NetChannel will be the service provider’s software recommended. NChannel’s box is due on October 11 for $619, including an electronic mail address and smart card, ready to go shopping. NetChannel’s CEO is Dave Atkinson, formerly VP multimedia products and services at AT&T Corp, and former Yahoo! Inc internee Philip Monego is president of NetChannel services, leading the company’s services group.

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