The device has not sold well in the consumer market and was reportedly in line to get the ax, but Bandai has reaffirmed its commitment to the product by announcing its intention to further develop the platform.
Pippin @World was originally developed by Apple Computer and is based on Apple's Power Macintosh technology, although Apple is no longer involved in the platform's development. The design is licensed by Bandai and is meant to provide Internet access in a single "plug and play" unit.
Bandai will equip the units for Ethernet networking with the addition of a one-inch high Ethernet docking station that connects to the Pippin @World's PCI expansion port. The network interface will accept RJ 45 connections and will be compatible with the common 10 Base-T network standard.
Connecting to the Internet via Ethernet will mean the Pippin @World can download data at up to 10 mbps, several times faster than the phone connections previously used with the unit.
Bandai hopes corporate users will see the Ethernet-enabled Pippin @World as a low-cost solution for workers needing email, Web access, and the ability to use training CD-ROMs.
"Bandai Digital Entertainment sees extraordinary promise in these vertical markets for the Pippin @World," said Toyo Okada, senior vice president of BDE in a prepared statement. "We have received positive reinforcement from customers in several different markets that the Pippin @World is a viable solution for their networking needs."
Bandai claims that a major strength of the Pippin @World is its ease of installation in the business environment. Users only need to connect the unit to a monitor or TV, plug it into the network, and load an included CD-ROM. This ease of installation and lack of user configuration echo the strengths of the NetPC and Network Computer.
The Pippin @World sells for $695, with volume purchasers receiving a discount, and the new Ethernet docking station is expected to cost $139 when it arrives in the middle of the year.