Oracle's NCI reinvents itself

Oracle's NCI reinvents itself

Oracle's foray into the world of thin-client software, Network Computers (NCI), rose from the ashes last week with the announcement of a corporate name change and a host of new investors in the company.

Though the focus of the company is decidedly different than when it was originally conceived by Larry Ellison and Scott McNealy years ago, newly-dubbed Liberate Technologies is enjoying an infusion of $US50 million from 11 strategic investors interested in cashing in on the proliferation of "information appliances".

"We think this name more accurately represents the business that we are in and the spirit of the company," said Mitch Kertzman, CEO of Liberate, alluding to the stigma associated with the moniker "network computers", a product category that many industry observers view as a failure. "[Network computers] deserve credit for the steep decline in the price of PCs," but they will not replace PCs as originally intended, Kertzman said.

Signalling its dramatic shift in strategy from corporate solutions to consumer-oriented Internet solutions, Liberate listed five cable companies among its new investors, including Cox, MediaOne, and Comcast. Company officials would not go into detail as to how the new relationships will affect its product plans because it is currently in an SEC-imposed quiet period.

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