September 19, 1997 1:25 PM PDT

Apple to make NCs

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Apple Computer (AAPL) may rest a portion of its future on the emerging network computer (NC) market.

The computer company, which officially regained the CEO services of founder Steve Jobs on a temporary basis this week, is reportedly readying an NC for delivery in spring of next year. Apple officials declined to comment on the reports.

Given the entrance of NC convert and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison on Apple's board of directors last month, it should come as no surprise that the NC topic is being discussed, according to industry observers. One analyst noted, however, that an NC-style architecture could be a natural for the two remaining markets in which Apple has a significant share: education and creative content.

The analyst, who requested anonymity, said the combination of the forthcoming Rhapsody operating system (OS)--which will reportedly be positioned as a high-end desktop and server platform--with NCs is a natural move for Apple.

Apple observers say Jobs is enamored with the concept of offering a "computing anywhere" environment similar to what NCs attached to large servers purport to do.

Some Apple users are already pleased with the remote capabilities of the relatively low-cost eMate computer, a clam shell-shaped system that lists for just under $800.

John Ullis, vice president at ETI, a Tacoma, Washington-based Apple education reseller, said, "We're seeing a lot of interest. We've got 'Wintel' customers looking into the eMate."

Apple NCs slated for next year will use Apple's new low-power, high-performance PowerPC 750 chip, according to a report in MacWeek. Apple's target pricing for clients is reportedly in the $700 to $800 range, according to the report. It is expected that initially one likely configuration would be NCs running a version of the Mac OS connected to server computers running Apple's Rhapsody operating system, the report said. NCs using Java software could come later.

 

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