New York City-based Gobi Inc. said it is launching a new national
consumer technology service that provides subscribers with Internet
connections and a powerful personal computer for about the price of basic
cable TV service.
The company is now shipping the first of over a million computers it expects
to provide this year.
Subscribers pay $25.99 monthly. Gobi said it will provide unlimited Internet
access and a new Intel Celeron computer that it keeps up to date by replacing
every three years or sooner. The company also plans to periodically upgrade
components of the service, such as providing cable modem access.
Subscribers pay a one-time setup fee of $29.99 plus shipping and handling and
join for a three-year term, but may cancel at any time and keep the computer
by paying an unspecified cancellation fee. Subscribers will be able to access
the Internet from 350 local dial-up sites across North America.
Advertising is not the model here, as it is with Free-PC.com. Gobi said it will leverage
its unique position between its users and the Internet “to generate e-commerce
revenue through a business model similar to those used by Amazon.com, Yahoo!
and America Online.”
The company is already shipping to customers in the Toledo, OH area, where it
conducted field tests, said CEO Ganesh Ramakrishnan.
The Gobi computers include a 300 MHz Intel Celeron processor, 32 MB of SDRAM,
a 3.2GB hard drive, 40X CD-ROM drive, 15″ color monitor with speakers,
56k (v.90) fax/modem, and Windows 98 software.
Gobi was founded in 1998 by three former executives of D.E.Shaw & Co., a
global investment bank. In addition to Ramakrishnan, the company is headed by
and Chief Financial Officer Sudhir Shrotri and Chief Operating and
Technology Officer Jeremy D. Schneider. Investors include British
industrialist Simon Wolfson.