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Oracle signs up Acorn for Net devices

A British company called Acorn Computer Group has been tapped by database giant Oracle Corporation to come up with a design for an inexpensive Internet device.

Oracle has signed up a small British computer design firm called Acorn Computer Group to come up with a blueprint for an inexpensive Internet access device.

Oracle chieftain, Larry Ellison, has been a vocal proponent of cheap Net devices as alternatives to PCs for some consumers. The goal is to provide a device for about $500. Skeptics say these devices will hold little appeal for most users.

In order for such a device to be cheaper than a multimedia PC, it will likely include minimal hard drive capacity and a minimum of RAM. It is also likely that the Oracle/Acorn device would not use the Windows operating system.

Among PC manufacturers, the notion of inexpensive Net devices instead of PCs has generally been derided. However, at last week's Consumer Electronics Show, Compaq Computer CEO, Eckhard Pfeiffer, said the idea has merit.