A senior executive at Oracle Corp. said he expects notebook versions of network computers to reach the market by the middle of next year.
Jerry Baker, the CEO of Network Computer Inc., a wholly owned Oracle subsidiary, said the upcoming unit would have a local store that allows users to download electronic mail and "some sort of local cache within the hard drive or a Zip drive."
Speaking before a group of investors during a recent conference sponsored by Goldman Sachs in Phoenix, Baker made the statement in the course of a spirited exchange while on a panel with Microsoft Corp.'s vice president of developer relations and marketing, Brad Chase.
As they debated the viability of the market for network computers, Chase kibitzed about the unlikelihood of users tapping into their NCs from an airplane at 30,000 feet. However, Baker said NCI expects to begin selling notebook versions of the NC by the middle of 1997.
NCI was formed by Oracle in May. A spokesman for the subsidiary said the company expects prices for the portable device to range between $500 and $700. The spokesman declined to reveal the identities of companies that might manufacture the device.