Monday, June 20, 2005

Return of the Dummy Terminal?

Mark Evans



I can remember going to a conference in San Francisco four or five years ago where Larry Ellison, Steve Jobs and Scott McNealy enthusiastically talked about the network computer. Today, we all realize the dummy terminal never materialized. Instead, laptops have become more powerful with more powerful processors, larger hard drives and better graphics. Still, there are people who think dumb terminals will emerge as more companies - worried about security and regulatory issues - seek ways to give mobile employees access to data without having it leave the firewall. Toronto-based Route1 Inc. is developing software that offers access to corporate data over a wireless connection. Initially, Route1 is selling a $199 a month subscription service using hardware made by Psion Teklogix. The company, however, believes the software will be integrated into other devices such as smartphones using the Windows Mobile OS. Route1's sales pitch is that mobile employees get what they need while CTOs centrally control data. Only time will tell if the dummy terminal model will gain any traction this time around. A key issue is whether businesses are willing to pay $199 a month just so employees can enjoy wireless, secure access

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