The maker of the first set-top box that allows consumers to surf the Net on their TV sets plans to spend over 1m to promote its vision of cheap and easy Net access for the masses.
NetProducts launched its 300 NetStation at the end of July, but the real marketing drive will start in September when the product gains national distribution through electrical multiples like Dixons and Comet.
Though it costs less than a quarter of the price of a typical home PC, the NetStation offers the full range of Net services, from e-mail to the World Wide Web.
“Despite all the hype, the fact is that most people who are making use of the Net are on it at work – the NetStation is going to bring the Internet into peoples’ living rooms,” says NetProducts’ sales and marketing director Michael Robinson.
The NetStation is currently the only Internet set-top box on the market and Robinson aims to exploit this opportunity with an advertising campaign through Walsh Trott Chick Smith.
“We’ve got posters at the moment and we’ll be moving onto radio, press and probably TV over the next few months,” says Robinson. “We plan to sell 30,000 by the year-end.”
Robinson also reveals plans to roll out further products next year, including an e-mail only version, that will put people on line for less than 50.
However, NetProducts’ TV-based products may only enjoy a short lead.
Next year will see the launch of digital television services by BSkyB-backed BIB and British Digital Broadcasting, which are likely to flood the consumer market with heavily-subsidised set-top boxes that also offer Internet access.