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Oracle to demonstrate home NCs

RCA, Zenith, and CNN will join in as Oracle demonstrates the use of home NCs for news and entertainment.

Larry Ellison is coming into your home and, unless market conditions stay the same, there's not a lot you can do about it.

Ellison, mercurial chairman of Oracle (ORCL), will demonstrate today how the network computer will become a device for delivering news, information, and entertainment into the home, according to Shannon Mollner, an Oracle spokeswoman. The demonstration will take place at the Hilton in San Francisco at the Newspaper Association of America Convention.

Both RCA and Zenith Electronics will participate in the demonstration, Mollner said.

The two companies will show off new home NCs. CNN will also be on hand to help demonstrate the interactive news service created earlier in the year with Oracle. The overall presentation will discuss trends about information demand and the delivery requirements for the types of information home users will want.

Although generally envisioned as a device for the corporate market, NC companies have of late focused on it as a consumer device. Yesterday, RCA announced two network computers for the home, the NC1020 and NC1010. Both are designed for use with conventional televisions and based on technology from Oracle subsidiary Network Computer Incorporated.

The specifications for the RCA device are similar conceptually to the set-top boxes being marketed by WebTV.

Zenith's "NetVision" computing-TV devices have yet to be released. Zenith has said it plans to offer a family of Internet TV products--including set-top boxes and integrated TV sets with interactive features--based on NCI's software.

Despite massive fanfare, Internet devices for the home like NCs and set-top boxes so far occupy only a small niche, according to Jupiter Communications.

Still, the market continues to attract major investments from the largest companies in software and consumer electronics, an effort which makes a breakthrough seem likely, Jupiter and others have said.