3Com Saves Face, Offers Full Audrey Refund

3Com confirmed Wednesday that it would buy back its Audrey television-styled
Web connectivity appliances.


A spokesperson for the company confirmed 3Com’s decision to buy back any
Audrey browser purchased from its Web site for $499 a pop, the asking price
for the unit. Users can take advantage of the offer through June 1, 2001.


The unusual step was hailed as a gesture of goodwill by the company and a
reaction to a slow-buying PC environment.


“Audrey was on the market for a few months. We continue to believe in its
potential, but we stopped [selling] it because the market will take a lot
longer to develop,” said 3Com spokesman Bob Ingols.


The refund does not extend to users who purchased Audrey from retailers,
including Best Buy and CompUSA. Ingols declined to say how many of the
Audrey units were sold.


Audrey was created to offer users a familiar way to access the Web — the
unit came equipped with an old-fashioned turn knob used to surf the Web’s
various channels. Ingols said the company has not ruled out returning to
providing network connectivity appliances at a later date.


3Com is in the midst of exploring options to par down its expenses by $1
billion in cost saving measures that include scaling back its staff later
this month.

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