and Microsoft announced that eMachines expects to begin shipping an Internet
appliance in October, 2000. This appliance, called the "MSN Companion",
will - amazingly enough - use the Microsoft Network (MSN) as its Internet
will price the Companion at $349 (without monitor), but customers will
be eligible for a $400 rebate if they sign up for 36 months of MSN service.
competitors in the MSN-based appliance field include Compaq and Acer.
We see this as a continuation of Microsoft's attempt to accomplish a number
an Internet appliance - This continues the Microsoft strategy (or is
it a tactic?) started when Compaq began shipping their iPAQ Internet
Appliance in August. By hooking up with eMachine, Microsoft ties in
with one of the larger retail desktop presences. (PC Data's figures
showed eMachines in the #3 retail sales position.)
a direct competitor to Gateway/AOL - Even before Microsoft went after
Netscape, we believe MS considered AOL a Great Satan. Anything they
can do to weaken AOL's competitive presence is probably A Good Thing
in Redmond's eyes. We mention Gateway because of their "iPliance" products,
which bundle AOL. (See TEC Gateway
& AOL Follow Crusoe's Footprints).
MSN presence - Despite massive efforts by Microsoft over many years,
AOL is still the leader in the ISP/gateway market. Some estimates have
AOL with seven times the number of subscribers when compared to MSN
(14 Million vs. 2 Million). With the current eMachines offer of a $400
rebate (for a $350 machine without monitor, if you subscribe to MSN
for 36 months), we see this as not-too-far-removed from bundling Internet
Explorer with Windows.
This device is primarily for consumers, and is not business oriented.
Although it may work well for Web-based computing (e.g., using an ASP),
the lack of a hard drive makes it unsuitable as a corporate desktop replacement.
(We are not ignoring the recent phenomenon of Web-based storage, but we
feel it is currently impractical for most corporate environments.)
mildly annoying aspect is that the monitor must be ordered separately
(in contrast to most other appliances), adding another $100-$150 or so
to the price tag. But even with this added cost, the price will still
be lower than Compaq's IA-1 by $100-$150, so it looks like a decent deal
of the monitor and hard drive issues, we see this unit as a fairly standard
product - neither a ground-breaker nor a dog - that should help expand
the presence of Internet appliances in the home.