Intel made an aggressive move into the home networking category last week with the launch of three new phone line-based AnyPoint Home Network products, which will range in price from $79 for a PCI card to $189 for a parallel port package for connecting two PCs.
The launch of Intel's first consumer networking products puts the company in direct competition with traditional ally Microsoft, which is partnering with 3Com to deliver its own line of networking products into a market that could grow to $1.4 billion by the year 2003, according to estimates by Cahners In-Stat Group.
The new AnyPoint products, which are based on a new chip Intel introduced in February, will be sold exclusively at retail by CompUSA. They will also be available from Intel - with free shipping - on its web site, and bundled in PCs sold by Gateway and IBM.
The AnyPoint Home Network line, which conforms to the HomePNA 1.0 standard, can send and receive data at speeds up to 1Mb per second.
Dan Sweeney, general manager of Intel's home networking operations, said Intel will introduce a USB version this fall, and will move to the 10Mbps standard late this year or early next year. Also on tap for the year 2000 are RF-based wireless products, as well as a connector for allowing wired and wireless products to operate together.
Intel has focused on ease of use to differentiate its products from others in the burgeoning market for home networks that allow users to share files, peripheral devices such as printers and scanners, as well as modems and Internet access. To allay customer trepidation, Intel is offering a 60-day money-back guarantee to online AnyPoint purchasers.
The two external parallel port models - $99 for the one-PC version, $189 for the two-PC model - enable users to set up home networks without having to crack the case of their PCs, and the included software uses a wizard for easy setup and configuration.
The one internal model, called the PCI Card for 1PC model ($79), is suggested when the PC's parallel port is being used for a device other than a printer. An auto-resource detection feature allows new peripherals to be added and shared easily by other PCs on the network.