Crusoe chip out later this year on AOL-Gateway Internet Appliances

Published June 14th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Gateway has selected the Transmeta Crusoe smart processor to power the first of its new line of network-ready Internet Appliances (IAs) that it is developing with America Online, Transmeta announced in a press release. 

Under the deal, Transmeta will sell Gateway more than 100,000 units processors at $70 each, said James N. Chapman, Transmeta's senior vice president of sales and marketing.  

"Crusoe and Mobile Linux will help support AOL's and Gateway's strategy of offering consumers easy-to-use, convenient, reliable Internet access and superior Internet-based content," said Peter Ashkin, Gateway senior vice president and chief technology officer. 

AOL and Gateway announced plans for the new devices in April, but did not say which processors they would use. Later the same month, both AOL and Gateway invested in Transmeta, taking part in a $88 million round of financing that included Compaq Computer Corp., and Sony Corp. Financier George Soros and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen also have stakes in the Santa Clara, Calif., company.  

"AOL and Gateway have the best overall strategy in the emerging Internet Appliance space and we are thrilled to have a strategic relationship with them to develop Crusoe and Mobile Linux-based products," said David Ditzel, CEO of Transmeta Corp. 

"At our launch in January, we promised Crusoe would usher in a new world of mobility. With their innovative approach to Internet Appliances for the home, Gateway and AOL are playing a significant role in moving that vision forward," Ditzel added. 

On April 5, AOL and Gateway unveiled a groundbreaking family of specialized Internet appliances featuring "Instant AOL" that will deliver AOL's content, features and services to consumers in every room of their homes.  

Advancing the AOL Anywhere strategy, these new devices are small, lightweight tools for accessing the Internet in a variety of ways during the course of a consumer's daily life. 

These appliances will automatically launch the "Instant AOL" service, a customized version of AOL's convenient and easy-to-use software. It also will offer popular AOL content and features like e-mail and news as well as personalized services for busy households.  

These next-generation appliances will utilize the Netscape Gecko browser technology. 

Gecko, Netscape's smaller, faster and more potent browser engine technology, is a key component of the AOL Anywhere strategy and is designed to power Internet devices across a range of platforms and enable Web developers to create more compelling Internet-based content and applications. 

The first of these devices will utilize Transmeta's Mobile Linux operating system, a more compact, power-managed version of the robust and reliable Linux operating system. 

The companies will market these devices through their complementary sales and distribution channels, which include the AOL service with more than 22 million members; and the nearly one million people a day who connect with Gateway through its phone, Web sales channels, and Gateway's innovative Gateway Country retail locations nationwide. 

The first Gateway device is intended for the kitchen, and will come with a flat-panel monitor that can be put on a counter or attached to a wall.  

Gateway spokesman John Spelich said the device would provide "room-appropriate" functions like a calendar, family message board, and a recipe collection along with AOL Internet access. It is expected to sell for less than $500, but a monthly AOL subscription will be required.  

The second device with a Transmeta chip will be a thin laptop with wireless Internet access for the home, Gateway said. It is scheduled for release early next year. Gateway has not selected a processor for a third device that will feature a conventional monitor.  

The devices will come without hard drives, limiting their uses when they are not connected to the Internet.  

"They are really not meant to be PC substitutes," said Spelich.  

Nevertheless, the Crusoe chips will hit the Wintel duopoly hard, according to analysts. 

"The technology Transmeta has is very important, and it's the first one we've seen in a long time that seriously challenges the Wintel duopoly," Tim Bajarin, president of consulting firm Creative Strategies Research International was quoted as saying by The Associated Press. 

In the meantime, several other companies are racing to make machines that connect to the Internet without the complexity and cost of a computer. Netpliance Inc. sells a $99 "i-opener" similar to Gateway's planned countertop model, and Oracle Corp. last month unveiled a computer for Internet access for $199.  

While Intel dominates the market for PC processors, Bajarin said it is not clear yet who will be the market-leader in processors for the new class of devices.  

Transmeta's Crusoe chips are aimed squarely at this market. They are designed to use much less power than Intel processors, which extends the battery life of portable devices. They also produce less heat, allowing designers to dispense with bulky and noisy cooling fans --

© 2000 Al Bawaba (

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