Articles / The i-opener and Open Sourc…

The i-opener and Open Source

Kalin R. Harvey writes: "The i-opener from Netpliance has realized a level of brand recognition that no one could have predicted a month ago. It seems that everyone has an opinion about the loss-leader hardware produced by the Austin, Texas start-up, which was subsequently hacked and repurposed by a bunch of hardware wizards. The rhetoric on the technical discussion boards has ranged from absolute love to complete hate, nuanced by all of the shades one would expect to find in a complex relationship. The way the story has developed raises questions about the future of Internet appliances, the "customer acquisition at all expenses" business model, and, more than anything, the complex relationship between the commercial interests, the Open Source community, and the great unwashed masses who have never been online."The most significant aspect of the whole i-opener experience is the continued flirtation of companies with an Open Source development model. One day, it's a match made in heaven; the next, they are like water and oil.
The Big Idea
It's simple. Everyone is entitled to an exciting and satisfying online experience.
Yet it's revolutionary. Netpliance is removing the last barriers to the Internet by delivering the i-opener, the first genuinely simple Internet appliance. Millions of people -- with and without computers -- are looking for an immediately rewarding online experience, and the i-opener delivers.
-- Netpliance Web site (About Netpliance)

Most industry analysts agree that the Internet appliance market is set to explode.

International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts the US market for Internet appliances will reach 18.5 million units. This is extremely significant since IDC pegs PC sales for that year at only 15.7 million. These numbers, should they be borne out, are stunning. They play on the fact that around 50% of US homes do not have PCs and thus lack access to the Internet.

The barriers preventing this population from being online already are cost and lack of technical aptitude. The Internet appliance at it's basic conception is a device which eliminates these barriers by making Internet access as natural and commonplace as using a microwave or turning on a television.

Netpliance was incorporated just over a year ago in Austin, Texas. They have since hit the ground running with their i-opener, introduced to the market in November. It has been widely heralded as the first widely-deployed device that has truly reached appliance Nirvana: "one-button Internet". It's important for a young, relatively small company like Netpliance to get an early foothold in the industry.

Competition in the market will be fierce. Not only will they be in direct competition with other startups like New Internet Computing (founded by Larry Elison of Oracle), and Boundless Technology, looking to make a big splash, but they will soon be going up against a broad cross-section of industry heavyweights including Microsoft, Compaq, Gateway, AOL, Acer, and Phillips.

Netpliance is focused on the ideal of getting new people on the Internet. On some level, we all are. Who among us so-called technical elite hasn't tried to give her parents an email primer and walked away thinking, "It should be easier; I didn't realize it was this hard for 'normal' people"? Who can find fault in a company whose business model allows them to use testimonials as wholesome as the following in their press material: "For busy moms like myself, the i-opener allows me to have quick access to news, weather, and even the latest recipes."?

As CEO Kent Savage idealized it, "the minute our customers take it out of the box, i-opener begins to bring the Internet and all its educational and entertainment possibilities as simply as turning on the TV, radio, or microwave -- truly representing the Internet for everyone."

The Internet for the masses. This is the mission of Netpliance.

The Big Leap
We've combined an Internet appliance, Internet service, and a consumer portal in a single, friendly package. Now users can be served instant, personal, relevant content with just the touch of a button. (Even PC veterans are asking "Why didn't anyone do this before?".)
-- Netpliance Web site (About Netpliance)


The i-opener was first announced in July 1999. The company set the appliance's retail price at $399 with monthly access fees ranging from $4.95 to $24.95 depending on the number of family members accessing email and customized content. At this price, they were undoubtedly making at least a small profit on each device sold. Because the system was explicitly designed to work with only the i-opener ISP, the company also stood to maintain a continued revenue stream from access fees. There was also the prospect of future revenue from targeted e-commerce activity and advertising that would just be gravy.

By the time the i-opener hit the market in November, Netpliance had cut the sticker price in half and flattened the access packages to a flat $21.95. At Comdex in November, they also spent a considerable amount of time talking about revenue from e-commerce -- showing off a special "pizza" key on the keyboard that would order a pizza when pushed. They explained that sharing transaction revenue from schemes such as this combined with practically guaranteed Internet access fees would subsidize the price of the hardware, now an unbelievable $199.

Subsidizing an initial purchase in this way is not unusual. There is a classic business maxim that says: give away the razor, sell the blades. Gillette notwithstanding, cell phones provide a good example of how this principle works rather explicitly in today's market. The idea of actually paying $300 up front for a phone seems distasteful or unnatural to many of us. The ubiquitousness of offers for "free cell phones" probably accounts a lot for the massive growth of the market in recent years.

Netpliance was taking a similar approach. It was a wise move. In the competitive appliance market, it made sense for them to take whatever steps necessary to gain an early market lead. But they took it one step further -- they did not even require people purchasing their subsidized hardware to sign a terms-of-service agreement. Long-term contracts and obligations make people uneasy, especially when they are for a service that they might not fully understand. Besides, the i-opener couldn't work with other service providers, so once someone laid out the initial purchase cost, it would be unreasonable for them to not subscribe to the service. The device just wasn't designed to be useful for anything else.

It's uncertain whether Netpliance decided to become even more aggressive or if they were disappointed with their initial sales, but on March 1, they decreased the retail price once more, this time announcing a %50 off sale that would price the unit at $99, just one quarter of their originally planned price. At this stage, analysts agreed that the company was losing hundreds of dollars per unit.

In their IPO registration statement filed on December 23, 1999, they stated it plainly: "at current pricing levels, a new customer must pay monthly fees for our service for a significant period of time before we recover the purchase price subsidy on that customer's appliance. ... If we are unable to achieve sufficient revenues from user fees and other sources to cover the subsidies of appliance purchases, we may never become profitable and our business model could fail."

It's a complex relationship that has to develop between a technology company and the non-technical public. Almost as complex as the relationship between a technology company and... well, we'll get to that.

The Big Dedication
Since the dawn of the Internet, ease of use and real people's needs have been overshadowed by showy technological feats. Feats that may appeal to technical elites, but have kept millions of people away from the power and pleasure of modern communications.
-- Netpliance Web site (About Netpliance)

The above quote so nicely sums up the developments around the i-opener that it is worth reading twice. It has in fact been a basic operating principle of Netpliance since the company was founded. Technology like the increasingly complex browsers with their plug-ins, pop-up windows, and Java virtual machines may have driven the expansion of the Internet, but the average person who has avoided the Net for this long has no interest in dealing with these issues, let alone braving things like USENET or FTP.

What if we took the phrase, "technical elites" literally? We'd probably be talking about the hacker or Open Source community -- the kind of people who read SlashDot.org daily and run Linux networks in their homes just for fun. Do the showy technical feats that appeal to these people keep millions away from the pleasure of modern communications?

It's a pretty tough case to make. The basic technology developed and supported by the Open Source community has probably done more to democratize the Internet and make it widely accessible to large segments of the population than any company, regardless of its resources and intentions.

The quote from Netpliance makes one thing clear, though: they had always framed technological elites in an adversary position to the mission.

Enter Ken Segler, a slot machine designer from Las Vegas. Ken bought an i-opener for $99, cracked the case open, and within hours had added a hard drive and installed Linux, replacing the customized Netpliance software and original QNX operating system. He eventually added an Ethernet adapter and basically repurposed the machine into a multipurpose network terminal.

The device had more than one use now. It wasn't only good for accessing the i-opener ISP (it had, in fact, become useless for that purpose); now it could be used for almost anything else -- a car MP3 player, an access terminal for around the house, or just a great, cheap, mobile computer. Ken posted instructions on the net and began offering customized modification kits for $35.

On March 11, his site got SlashDotted, with a subject heading that read "Flat Panel Linux Box for $99?"

Within days of Ken's site being featured on the premier "news for nerds" site, pockets of Circuit City stores around the country began to sell out of i-openers (reportedly the first areas to sell out were in cities that had large research universities nearby). Web sites and discussion boards popped up seemingly out of nowhere and were populated with information on new ways to install different operating systems or clever, inexpensive ways to optimize the performance of the systems. People working at high tech firms began to discuss design ideas over coffee breaks.

The whole event became a legitimate Internet craze.

Hackers love problems, and they love to take things apart and make them work better than they did before. There is a certain high to being able to do something cool that isn't supposed to be possible. The energy that this creates on an individual level increases exponentially when you get a group of people like this working on the same problem and openly sharing their solutions.

Need proof? In less than 10 years, Linux has gone from an idea to the fastest-growing operating system on the planet. Given enough time, the Open Source community would probably learn things about the i-opener that Netpliance's engineers hadn't even thought of.

The immediate implications of an i-opener hack eliminating the ISP requirement should be obvious. Most quoted estimates put the per unit cost at between 300 and 400 dollars, implying that every i-opener that was sold at $99 was losing the company around $250. Because they had never required anyone to sign a terms-of-service agreement or an access contract, they had no legal recourse. It is impossible to know exactly how many of the devices were purchased for the purpose of repurposing them, but even a conservative estimate would have to put the number in the thousands.

A simple analysis would have the company losing several hundreds of thousands of dollars which it would never recover in monthly service fees. This had the potential to damage Netpliance's IPO of March 17 and, in the eyes of many investors, hurt the future of the company and threaten their business model and mission.

Was the dramatic statement on Netpliance's Web site starting to sort its semantics out? Were "the showy technological feats" of the "technical elites" actually threatening to keep "millions of people away from the power and pleasure of modern communications"?

It's not so simple. Netpliance received enormous amounts of free publicity from the whole affair, and many of the people who bought the i-opener with the intention of modifying it were so impressed with the device that they also bought second boxes as gifts for their friends and relatives to use as originally intended. That's saying nothing of the potential benefits of Open Source development.

As the story became more widely circulated, the newly-minted Netpliance shares began a steady decline. On Monday, March 20, the company did something amazing. They responded to concerns by saying it was a positive thing for them. Spokeswoman Munira Fareed was quoted in CNET as saying, "we are interested in putting together a program to collaborate with the Linux community that essentially harnesses their knowledge. ... In the end, we want to get new appliances and applications to consumers. If anyone can help us do that, that's great"

Unfortunately, the shareholders didn't go for it, and the stock continued to decline. Finally, on Thursday, March 23, nearly two weeks after the news of the hack hit SlashDot, they announced that the machines would no longer be modifiable. Immediately following the announcement, they claimed on their Web site that modifying the device may be a violation of federal law, though it's hard to see how. Later that day, they revised the rhetoric to enforce a terms-of-service agreement. In the interest of maintaining their business model to the satisfaction of shareholders, they had little choice.

It had been implied right in their business plan: they had to choose between the moms and the nerds of the world.

Welcome to the Developer's Corner.
Netpliance believes in Open Source development. As part of our effort to support the community, we will be developing a site that will be the premier source for i-opener product information. We are looking into providing an open hardware package for the developer community. Please watch this site for more details.
-- Netpliance Web site (Developer's Corner)

When I first heard about the i-opener hack, I was impressed with the potential of the device. I thought about getting one to turn into an MP3 terminal. Having one of these things in my living room hooked up to an MP3 server hidden away downstairs would revolutionize the way I live.

Then Netpliance announced that they were seeking to actively work with the Open Source community, and I was doubly excited. I had already seen all of the data pouring out about the device and thought about how good this could be for the company, regardless of their loss-leading sales model. If Netpliance was willing to really stick its neck out here and do something daring, it would do more than revolutionize my living room. It could accelerate the evolution of an entire industry.

It's inevitable that more and more of the software we run on a daily basis will become Open Source. The benefits are too great and the quality of existing Open Source software too high for this progression to not occur. Any company that realizes this now is still making a bold move, but it is a move that, executed properly, will pay off immensely -- even in the short-term.

There are a lot of reasons for the success of the Open Source development model. Sometimes people have a hard time understanding how a group of part-time coders could have developed the basic infrastructure of the Internet and done a better job than billion dollar companies could ever have dreamed (look at the success of Linux versus IBM's OS/2, or the Apache Web server versus Microsoft IIS). It has nothing to do with the skill of the programmers or their political beliefs; it comes down to basic structural assumptions in the way developers interact and structures of knowledge develop.

By openly publishing source code, developers are able to reduce duplication and increase productivity by having individuals naturally focus on areas that interest them rather than what management tells them to do. They also increase the quality of the work by opening it up to peer review, making software more reliable. Open Source guru Eric S. Raymond wrote Linus's Law to explain the phenomenon: "Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow." It's a great statement, and nicely explains the amazing stability of Linux and programs like Apache.

The i-opener software could benefit immensely from an open development model. Most importantly, it is critical to the operation of Netpliance as a company; the software needs to be as stable and as optimized as possible if they hope to survive.

As stated earlier, Netpliance is a small fish in a big sea. They face stiff competition from the likes of Microsoft and AOL. How can a relatively small start-up hope to compete with giants? They couldn't hope to find a professional research and development team even close to being comparable to either of these companies, let alone pay them.

The important outcome of the whole i-opener affair is that Netpliance suddenly had some of the best technological minds on the planet working with their product, testing novel configurations, pushing it to the limits, and freely reporting their results back to the community. Yes, this was costing them, but it was only a small fraction of the cost of actually employing these people.

A large number of these people publicly stated that they would have been more than willing to have payed $300 for the same hardware with a basic modification kit. They didn't want to rip Netpliance off; they just really liked the design of the device and the potential it had. An inexpensive Linux terminal, it turns out, represents quite an untapped market.

Netpliance has already begun to gain published research on their device from a creative, distributed R&D team. They could conceivably produce a highly optimized version 2.0 i-opener using the same hardware within 3-4 months with all the expertise that is available to them regarding performance optimizations and expandability options.

True, it's not Open Source development in the traditional sense of the term, but the same principles apply. If the company really is willing to give something back to the community, the community will respond, naturally, by improving on what they get and giving that knowledge back.

Ironically, given Netpliance's mandate to appeal to Internet neophytes, it is the Internet's most sophisticated users that have the greatest potential to help the company fulfill its role in bringing forth the best product available to the masses.

Netpliance has pledged to start a developer program, but there is currently a lot of doubt in the Open Source community as to how well this will be executed.

Netpliance has an enormous opportunity to foster an environment that will benefit everyone. They should offer a version of the i-opener designed for easy upgrading at close to cost. This device will only be of interest to hackers who have the ability and, more importantly, the drive to modify and experiment with it. It would also be wise to develop an arm's-length organization that could openly maintain discussions and information exchange between developers. By doing this, they would gain the good will of the community, reaping enormous benefits by increasing the caliber of their R&D.

Probably just as important as that, they would instantly gain a reputation among existing Internet users as a "good" company that can be openly promoted to friends over MS or AOL. In the quest to appeal to people who are uneasy with the Internet, it should not be forgotten that the biggest influence on their migration into the wired world will be people who are technologically savvy -- their friends and families. The two groups do not exist in some sort of class war vacuum.

Netpliance must reframe their picture of how the users of the Internet are divided up. It is not natural to draw a line between the "technical elites" and everybody else, constructing some demented love triangle in which each group must vie for the affection of companies at the expense of the other.

Hackers aren't just born hackers; they have moms who raised them. They share a lot of the same values. They both appreciate technology that enriches their lives. The i-opener can do that for both groups, and Netpliance can better achieve its ideal of making the Internet as easy as pushing a button if it also pleases those who want to unscrew, attach, crimp, configure, twist, and then push a button.


Kalin R. Harvey (http://plaza.powersurfr.com/krh/) currently works as a technical analyst for a major Canadian Public School Board and holds a degree in Linguistics. He actively promotes Linux and Open Source software as a more efficient way of organizing society and getting the most out of technology.


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Recent comments

13 Apr 2000 22:26 Avatar abo

Gutsy post! When are we going to see Open Hardware?
Wow, that was a brave post from an obviously pissed off engineer! How long untill he gets muzzled by the Man, and will that post end up sensored of freshmeat once the lawyers notice it?

Things like the iopener are cool, and it's great that geeks can reverse engineer and use them, but they still suffer from all the problems of closed source. Hardware designs are just information, the same as software, and information should be free.

I'd love to see a few GPL'd hardware designs out there. Imagine what could be done with a GPL'd StrongARM design. Drivers would be easy because there would be no hardware "secrets", and the design could evolve the same way as Linux itself.

I'm sure there would be heaps of cheap manufacturers in Asia that would leap at the chance to mass produce a design that's already been done for them, and has popular demand from the rapidly expanding linux market.

10 Apr 2000 14:53 Avatar johnrohner

Why help Netpliance for FREE develop a hacker proof box.
First let me introduce myself. My Name Is John Rohner
In March of 1999 I joined the forming company now called Netpliance as their
"one and only" Hardware and Firmware design engineer. The I Opener is the product
of my design efforts. So I know this machine very well.
Once production was set, via a Taiwanese company, and I had put 8 man months work,
in 3.5 calendar, into it. I was called in on a Sunday afternoon, I was down with a flu so
was home for the first time in months, handed a paycheck to the previous Friday and
told I "didn't meet Company expectations".
Two weeks later I copyrighted, applied for patent and published my "Wireless Hub
and pad" and Netpliance Threatened to sue unless I "turn over all rights to them"
and unless "I provide, FREE, my time to ensure they are "given this patent". Not me.
I told them to go ahead as they could explain how I was good enough to use free but
not pay. They are still considering it.

So much for history.

The I Opener is a simple x86 based "cut down" PC with a DSTN type LCD, not even a
good one, and a flash drive for storing the Operating system and current e-mail. It
uses a standard Award BIOS. That you all know.

What you may not know is that there is a way, built in the system, to
upgrade both the BIOS and system software from a remote site (their ISP servers).
Note, I said BOTH BIOS and OS. The "upgrade" software is in the OS code. A review
of the OS Drive will find it. Once found, and disassembled, a simple program to initiate
the download and "update" the codes could be done. Were one to look closely at the
Flash drive structure you will see there is more there than you think, a good place to
start unraveling this puzzle.
Blowing a new BIOS is easy, replacing a couple pins for the additional Hard Drive
or the replacing of the onboard Flash IDE Drive are failrly easy. But both require time
and some hardware expertise. Setting up a site to "upgrade" the BIOS and OS to Linux
might be easier.
Each unit also has a key code provided at time of manufacturer, serial and model
number, and gets a "User Key" when it first signs on the Netpliance network. This is how
they track the unit back to a user, for security and user statistics and demographics.

Also let me correct something you have wrong.
The price of each I-Opener from their Taiwanese manufacturer is $403. Units
are shipped to ORDER from there, not shipped from the Company in Austin. This was
why they initially came out at $399 (under $400 for marketing).
They dropped this because of the $400 REAL PCs available (350 or 400 mhz)
which made their 200 mhz $399 not look so good to any of gra ma's kids.
Then personalpc or peoplespc came along with their REAL PC for $22 a month
with a 3 year contract and the offer to provide a new one at the end of 3 years. This
forced them to look at other ways to sell product. Thus, the "SUB $100" pricing and
fixed 3 year @22 monthly rate.

As you know the machine is LOCKED into their s*ervice. So they make $900,
per user, in 3 years this way. OR $900 - $400 = $500 / 36 months = $13.80 per month
after the cost of the BOX for ISP only.

They planned to make money, from the very beginning, by selling advertising
space in the browser window, which you had no control of. And to that end they were
"profiling" everything you did on the machine, as they watched you surf they collected
your "pattern" and a program looked to see what "ads" to present to you. This program
also created a User Profile document that sales could use to give "prospective"
advertisers. I think they call that demographics. As a user, this was invisible to you.
You were told they were doing some tracing to provide the "most visited" sites on
your desktop. There are other things built into this "you must use me" system that
provide Saleable information for them as well. But I think you can understand that
in this service NOTHING is secret nor can it be, even if they disclaim it, the fact is
the fact. Everything you do they see and can collect. They even will offer Sites that you
have never visited based on this information, "AS SUGGESTIONS". How much they get
paid to suggest is anyones guess......

Now as to their "willingness" to go "Open". The Linux OS was the choice of
most of us from the start. Most of the software was developed under LINUX and moved
to the Proprietory QNX. Even I have no Idea why they went with QNX, EXCEPT that it
was NOT easy to switch away from. Let's face it Linux and a Mozzilla based Browser
would have been a thiusand times easier to use and implement than the QNX and it's
proprietary browser. The embedded Linux kernal is actually smaller than the QNX and all
the drivers, needed, existed. We had to write many for QNX. The Word, Excel etc viewers
and JAVA were all ready, and available, for the LINUX. NOT the QNX. Real Audio was a
snap with LINUX, we had to port it to QNX. Given all the advantages of the "FREE" Linux
you have to ask yourself: why would they PAY a royalty to QNX and go to all the trouble
to write drivers etc??. Does not look like they are interested in any "non proprietary"
software to me, nor have they ever been. My personal opinion is it is all hype for the
publicity.

I hear they might sell "development" units for $350 each. Why not. Good
advertising and they only lose $50 or so. BUT, they tap into every trick that can be
used to "change" their machine. There is NO commitment to use any "ideas" in any way
but they do wish to control the "publication" of anything.

In my opinion they are looking for a free way to get ideas and block them. The
"next" generation "Wireless" pad will most probably be based on a strong ARM chip, that
was my design and I believe they will steal it". This machine is due to be "no longer"
produced in about 8 months. So they need to control the "techies" somehow while they
get the next one, version 2, ready. Y'all can help them, immensly, to design around
the "Problems", if they continue this box, by telling them all about it. And for FREE too.
Or if they sell the box you can PAY to help them out.

As for me, I am building $500 Athalon 700 mhz machines and enjoying myself.
I am supplying my friends with these and turning them on to FREE ISP services where
they can go anywhere and do anything on the web. The $400 they save can be used for
Big monitors, Printers, Big Hard drives or whatever. So they get a banner, so does or will
the I-Opener. But they have a real PC and are capable of the freedom it provides them.
I have taught people to use the Browser in a couple minutes, NO TECHIES.
Later these same people want IPhone and music and ....... And they figure it out.

10 Apr 2000 13:21 Avatar markana

If not Netpliance, then someone else...
Netpliance *could* turn this whole affair into a huge win, and gain a massive advantage in a brand new product area.

But, I don't think they will.

They sort of wandered to the brink of greatness, but it's outside of their original business plan. Now, a company in this situation can do one of two things: adapt, push forward, stick their necks out, and create a whole new business. Or, they can shrink back into their original plan and try and shut out the outside world.

The latter is what Netpliance seems to be trying to do, a few token bones to the developer community notwithstanding. They're hoping those darn geeks go away, so they can go back to selling to their niche market. After all, if engineers like it, it must be too complex for Grandma, right? That's why they'll never sell an expandable system, even at a profit.

There is a market for the closed, simple net appliance. There's a much *bigger* market for a truly flexible, physically small, inexpensive machine that can be everything from a stand-alone to a networked thin-client.

I think Netpliance is going to wind up as the Visicalc of the appliance-system sector in a few years. They were there first, but failed to follow through, and lost to someone with a bigger vision.

09 Apr 2000 21:42 Avatar malcolmanderson

So When Is NetPliance Prepared To Deliver?
I ordered an I-Opener many weeks ago, planning on giving it to my parents as a gift. I entered into an agreement with them and trustingly shared my credit card information. To date, they have yet to deliver the computer I ordered.

Worse, they refuse to communicate with me.

I have sent several requests via email but have received no reply. I have tried phoning them; but their line is busy, or I am placed on hold for an agonizingly long period of time. Needless to say, they have never made an attempt to contact me.

I've heard rumors that they're attempting to reneg on contracts made before a certain date. Further, these rumors state that salespeople on the phone have explained the delays away with lies about the devices coming from Taiwan and engaged in high-pressure sales tactics to convert customers away from their existing contractual arrangements to a newer one which favors NetPliance' intersts. -Some rumors I've heard tell of NetPliance employees stating that the computers will not be shipped to customers who refuse to enter into a new contract with NetPliance.

I don't know what this 'business model' is that NetPliance is engaged in, but these rumors don't sit well with me; nor am I satisfied with the level of 'customer service' (or lack thereof) I have received from them thus far.

09 Apr 2000 20:06 Avatar halcyonm

What's it all mean for the future?
I suspect in the future that (of course) we will see more products such as these. In the near future, I hear AOL has produced a proprietary type i-opener style net terminal and it is safe to assume that many of the big names such as Dell and Compaq who pride themselves on customer service will be offering this style of service.

In the grand scheme of the technical hardware interface world, the fact that we didn't see this coming. With our personal organizers turning digital, and our calculators becoming more powerful, they have been slowly evolving into their older mobile brothers the laptop, while maintaining a steady market for the previous version of product. On the other hand, laptops have been to expensive and never 'power to weight' comparable enough to compete with home-based systems because of shear mechanics and the implementation of compact displays.

The newest products on the market for personal computing short of the i-opener are ones like the IBM Workpad and the HP Jornada which incorporate the same features as the i-opener by ways of an LCD screen, flashRAM OS, and compact profile. Although what the i-opener 'sported' that the Workpad and the Jornada did not was a USB port, a hidden IDE port, and a below cost price.

Personally, I am on a mission to find the next holy grail of personal computing bound to hit the market, and researching all the tricks of the trade to manufacturing/producing an all-in-one(der) product that would not only be capable of portable computing, but includes enough functionality to support most all of the untapped computing market due to feasibility impediments.

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