15, 2000 [Source: Compaq Press Release]
MSN and Compaq Computer Corporation announced availability of the Compaq
iPAQ Home Internet Appliance, the first MSN Companion device
available. The device is designed for new Internet users who want an easy
and affordable way to get connected, surf the Web, send and receive e-mail,
and accomplish everyday tasks online. The simplicity of the iPAQ
Home Internet Appliance provides consumers with a convenient and rich
Internet experience that makes it easy to stay connected to the people
and information they care most about.
only two connections-a power cord and a phone cord-the iPAQ Home
Internet Appliance with MSN Companion instantly connects users to the
Web with the touch of a single button. MSN Internet Access is preinstalled
and configured so users don't need to spend time manually setting it up
at home. MSN instantly connects users to the Internet and a simplified
interface that presents them with the integrated network of MSN content
and services. MSN Hotmail, MSN eShop, MSN Search and MSN Messenger Service
are all available. The device is automatically updated periodically over
the Internet for worry-free maintenance, providing users with virtual
obsolescence protection for their system.
are eligible for a $400 rebate with a three-year MSN Internet Access subscription
at a monthly rate of $21.95. With this rebate, the iPAQ Home Internet
Appliance costs as little as $199. The device is powered by the Microsoft
Windows CE operating system, Microsoft Internet Explorer browser software
and MSN. Features include an all-in-one design with a 10.1-inch LCD flat
panel color monitor with 800x600 resolution; a built-in speaker; a wireless
IR keyboard with Internet task buttons; a 56K modem; four USB ports; and
LEDs for power, e-mail and an Internet connection. Additional options-including
a Compaq USB mouse, a specially configured Epson 740 Micro Piezo ink-jet
color printer and JBL Platinum Series stereo speakers-will be sold separately.
iPAQ Home Internet Appliance is the first MSN Companion device
that offers Jeode EVM, an accelerated Java-compatible virtual machine
technology from Insignia Solutions that provides faster execution and
a more robust application behavior that Web users will appreciate.
Compaq is attempting to extend the iPAQ brand name, building on the tremendous
success of the line's desktop devices (over 100,000 sold since their release).
The iPAQ Home Internet Appliance is similar in features to Netpliance's
i-opener, probably the best-known home appliance at present. Now that
Dell has exited the home appliance market (See Dell
Drops WebPC), and the Gateway/AOL appliance is yet to appear, and
IBM's NetVista is fairly pricey, Compaq can expect to gain a good chunk
of market share. As competition increases, we do not believe Compaq can
sustain the relatively high price, unless it can build up a dominant market
position. We think it unlikely that Compaq will ever have more than 25%
of a mature appliance market.
bigger question is whether there is a large market for a device which
costs nearly as much as a low-priced PC, but without all the messy features
such as the ability to add application software (e.g. office suites, money
management software) locally. As Microsoft attempts to force the market
into more of an "application rental" model (i.e., applications delivered
through ASPs), we can see that market growing. However, we cannot see
it taking over until after the hardware and software makers get together
and decide to kowtow to Microsoft.
This is a consumer-focused device, not a business-focused device. Although
the price tag is steep ($599 before rebate, vs. $399 for the i-opener),
we believe this product is a better overall choice than the i-opener.
Although the i-opener has some minor advantages (built-in stereo speakers,
a "pizza key") and costs $200 less when rebates are removed, the ability
to use MSN instead of Netpliance's homebrew Internet connection will be
more appealing to mainstream users.
we believe consumer money is better spent than on this type of appliance.
Without the rebate in effect, you're paying almost $600 for a box that
doesn't do anything until you dial up MSN - and only MSN. Forget AOL,
forget MindSpring/EarthLink, forget MediaOne. This is the same complaint
we had about the i-opener - a captive ISP setup. If we were "resource
constrained", otherwise known as "strapped for cash", we'd get an eMachines
low-end model with a 15" monitor, and pick our own ISP. (No endorsement
of eMachines is implied, they are just the best-known low-price PC manufacturer.)