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A Decade Later, Internet Appliance Dream Is Realized

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Insignia Infocast


Ten years ago, the next big thing in tech was supposed to be the Internet appliance: a device that offered tech newbies a simpler and cheaper way to get onto the Internet.

Within the span of only a few months a host of such devices hit the market--products such as 3Com's Audrey, Netpliance's I-opener, along with machines from Sony, Gateway, and Compaq. They were all aimed at trying to offer the Web without the cost and complexity of a full-fledged computer.

Around the same time, makers of other products like the Kerbango Internet radio saw an opportunity for products that tapped the power of the Internet for a single purpose. Some predicted that the industry was poised for rapid and dramatic growth.

Unfortunately, the products ended up being either too limited or far slower than a PC and nearly as costly, and the category disappeared as quickly as it had emerged.

Still, it was a nice idea. And, the funny thing is, now people are actually buying these things.

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