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<nettime> MSN UK tests Net-connected portable potty
Kermit Snelson on Thu, 8 May 2003 16:17:05 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> MSN UK tests Net-connected portable potty


OK, critical new media theorists.  I expect to see a text here soon on
how the iLoo carries on Spinoza's project in our day by driving forward
theoretical practice through the actualization of the plastic and fluid
new terrains of possibility opened up by breaking down the barriers we
pose among the human, the animal, and the machine.  Or something.

Kermit
======

MSN UK tests Net-connected portable potty
Prototype 'iLoo' to debut at summer festivals

By Joe Wilcox
c|Net News.com
http://www.msnbc.com/news/908511.asp?cp1=1

May 2 - How far will MSN go to get new subscribers?  Apparently to the
portable potty at your local summer concert or festival.  MSN UK is
creating what Microsoft calls the world's first Internet Loo, or iLoo,
complete with flat-screen plasma display, wireless keyboard and
broadband access.  MSN UK spokesman Matthew Whittingham described the
portable toilet as the first WWW.C, referring to W.C., or water closet.

"THIS IS ANOTHER demonstration of Microsoft moving into new product
areas to expand its revenue base," said IDC analyst Roger Kay.

(MSNBC is a Microsoft - NBC joint venture.)

The iLoo isn't Microsoft's first attempt at a festival-oriented public
PC.  "We've had the world's first-ever cyber park bench, we launched two
years ago," Whittingham.  Like iLoo, the park bench served up Internet
access.

The portable john is testing and will debut at festivals around Great
Britain this summer.  Microsoft plans to build one prototype MSN iLoo,
which would make the festival circuit, depending on response,
Whittingham said.

MSN UK is negotiating with toilet paper manufacturers for special rolls
with Web addresses, or URLs, printed on them.

"Reading in the loo, or the bog, is a traditional English pastime," said
Jeremy Davies, an analyst with U.K.-based market researcher Context.
"We've all seen the magazine racks, loo paper with jokes and cartoons on
the walls in toilets up and down the land.  You've got to hand it to the
creative -- and uniquely English -- minds at Microsoft."

>From the outside, the iLoo is little different from other portable
toilets.  But inside, Microsoft serves up accouterments that might rival
some iLoo users' home PC setups.  A Windows XP-powered computer resides
under the sink with connection to 6-channel surround audio.  A flat-
screen plasma display swivels out from the side of the WWW.C, and a
waterproof wireless keyboard can be placed on the lap for comfort.

The iLoo is equipped with 802.11b wireless networking for providing
broadband Internet access.  The toilet uses vacuum suction to dispose of
waste.

"It's a bit of fun, and it allows younger age groups access to our key
services, like Hotmail and MSN Messenger in a fun and interactive way,"
Whittingham said.

As strange as the iLoo might sound, Davies sees something appropriate
about the invention.  "We have a pretty unique toilet humor in the
U.K.," he said.

A portable john with Internet access could present some problems at
crowded summer events.

"It could induce a certain amount of queuing due to excess browsing on
the part of users," Kay said.

To address this problem, the iLoo will be outfitted with a plasma
display and waterproof keyboard outside the box, so that those waiting
in queue can check their MSN Hotmail accounts.

Davies also raised concerns about the long lines. "Like my father always
said: 'Get in, get it out, get out,'" he said.

Whittingham agreed people might take longer in the toilet because of the
Internet access.  "If they take too long -- say, hours -- we'll probably
bang on the door or something," he said.

Security is another issue.  Because of the expensive hardware inside,
Microsoft plans to post a guard to protect the iLoo.

"If we didn't post a guard, somebody would probably just lift the whole
thing up and walk away with it," Whittingham said.

It's uncertain whether the MSN iLoo will do much for winning new
subscribers, but the portable toilet certainly presents a unique way of
promoting the brand.  Worldwide, Microsoft has about 8.7 million MSN
subscribers, a 300,000 decline in the first quarter from the fourth
quarter.

The iLoo isn't the only new concept PC Microsoft has under development.
At next week's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference, the software
giant is set to show off "Athens," which is intended to be hub for
communications and collaboration.

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