3Com kills Audrey.
March 21, 2001 1:49 PM   Subscribe

3Com kills Audrey. Although the little guy (gal?) was released just this past October, it's a goner. Is anyone willing to pay $499 for a net terminal? Was this just too far ahead of its time?
posted by hijinx (18 comments total)
Why would anyone pay that when they can get an internet-capable computer for $300? W/ a hard drive, yet.
It's too bad about Kerbango though. I had my doubts about this particular breed, but I really want good, capable, portable, internet radio. Plus, it's named after the stuff that the Psychlos take in "Battlefield Earth."
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:04 PM on March 21, 2001

Last place I worked had one of these in-house for testing, etc. It was an ugly little thing - cute to look at, but hard to use. Awful screen, bizarre knob-turning interface, rather limited ability to do much of anything. I agree w/ sonofsamiamiama... (can't stop typing!) - why buy a crippled cutesy "appliance" when you can get a much better full-on PC for the same cash?
posted by kokogiak at 2:10 PM on March 21, 2001

I surf the net with my computer and we get along just fine, why would i want to use anything else. Also since i do most of my surfing while i'm working ( like now ) i have a wonderful pc supplied with excellent connection speeds.
posted by Zool at 2:11 PM on March 21, 2001

Say goodbye to 3Com's version of the Newton.
posted by ed at 2:28 PM on March 21, 2001

The thing about Audrey was it was clear that 3Com learned nothing from Jeff Hawkins' development of the Palm. Oh well.
posted by peterme at 2:34 PM on March 21, 2001

Audrey was licensed from National Semiconductor and their WebPAD platform. Though the "clever" knob was unique to Audrey.
posted by tomalak at 2:36 PM on March 21, 2001

3Com will also discontinue its Web cam, which comes out of a separate division.

I can understand discontinuing Audrey, but what did their little web cam ever do to anyone? (Hey, don't they make more than one web cam?)
posted by idiolect at 2:37 PM on March 21, 2001

Yeah, that really is too bad about Kerbango. It was a great idea that is only in its infancy. I don't always want to be at the computer when listening to internet radio. It'd be a hoot to be able to listen to something like KPIG or Shoutcast in my car or kitchen here in NC.
posted by armando at 2:39 PM on March 21, 2001

I like the idea of a web tablet kind of thing for around the house, but not for that price for so little fuctionality.

I'm just gonna wait for sony's web tablet, based on a os developed by Be, of BeOS fame. I think they already released it in japan, called airboard, lets you watch tv, surf web, all wirelessly.

posted by Hackworth at 3:08 PM on March 21, 2001

hm. i can't find any info on the 3com site about this, but I wonder about the webcam too. i have one, a BigPicture cam (is that "the" cam, I guess?) and it's a rocking little piece of hardware.

I have a hard time seeing why anyone would want a web appliance---I mean, would you want a spreadsheet appliance, and a billpaying appliance, and a word-processing appliance...? But I imagine I'm not the target market for these things so I could be just not getting it.
posted by Sapphireblue at 3:26 PM on March 21, 2001

My mother is the target for this thing... unobtrusive, unintimidating, and it hangs on the frig.

She gets everything she wants, and nothing she doesn't.

I'm sad it's gone.
posted by silusGROK at 3:39 PM on March 21, 2001

Audrey's quick demise--the $499 device came out in October--is the latest evidence of a growing trend. Namely, consumers don't want simplified computing devices for surfing the Web, or at least they don't want them yet.

Uh, no. Consumers don't want horribly designed, limited-capability "Internet appliances" that cost as much as actual PCs. The average junior high school kid could grok the reasons why, so I don't know why 3Com's MBAs couldn't.

I'm not surprised about Kerbango one bit, though. That radio was supposed to have been on the market 6-9 months ago, but the date just kept getting pushed back and back and back while other devices made it to market; something was obviously wrong with it.

And isn't that Sony/Be pad something like $1100?
posted by aaron at 3:41 PM on March 21, 2001

Webcam: 3com's HomeConnect webcam is one of the highest rated webcams there is, I even own and love mine. But of course, to get out of "internet appliances" you have to kill everything, even the stuff that sells well, just because it makes good business sense.

Audrey: The concept is close, but still not there. I think Honeywell is probably to getting it right, but it is still to expensive, and theirs is not the proper wireless standard, which all but kills it. What I really want is a wireless web pad which will turn on instantly, can be held and possibly controlled by a stylus, conforms to standards. I thin a device running the new Pocket Linux would do really well at this, and make it 802.11b compliant. Then you will have something that can succeed, I think. I want something like this, but not be tethered to the cord of my network.

For $1000 I can get a fairly decent, cheap laptop. Ad in 300 dollars for a wireless card and base station, and I have got what I want, although a little bulky, and it does not turn on instantly. But better than paying $1000 for something with a poor, tiny screen; terrible resolution; and does not support things like realplayer, windows media, shockwave, or mp3s.
posted by benjh at 4:02 PM on March 21, 2001

I wonder if Sony's eVilla will do the trick. I really would love to see it succeed, with BeIA and all. But if I saw this in a store, next to one of the aforementioned $300ish computers, it'd be a really hard sell.

So the question is, who are these things for? They could be for absolute newbies, but ignoring a cheap full-on computer is difficult. They're not for highly experienced folks, because it simplifies the whole ordeal. They might be for gadget collectors, but only those with a high disposable income.

I really and truly would like to know who the customers for these products are supposed to be.
posted by hijinx at 4:46 PM on March 21, 2001

Well, just keep in mind: as network applications become more capable (see Hailstorm), the need for a standalone PC diminishes. And the same maintenance issues that bedevil corporate tech support bedevil consumers, with higher marginal costs for repair and replacement. I think we're close, but we're just not quite there yet.

These devices may ultimately grow UP from the PDA market, rather than DOWN from the PC market.
posted by dhartung at 6:56 PM on March 21, 2001

And grow up from cell phones, like Japan's Docomo system.
posted by Loudmax at 1:09 AM on March 22, 2001

Audrey was stupid and useful to 3com only in learning what *not* to do next time. It's so friggin' obvious what needs to be done with these web tablets that I feel like screaming. Especially since I'm a 3com investor. Arrrg!
posted by muppetboy at 8:23 AM on March 22, 2001

muppetmaster, do tell ...
posted by dhartung at 3:41 PM on March 22, 2001

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