- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 13, 2003

For anyone who thought New Coke was pulled from the market too soon, take a look at the short history of the iLoo, the world’s first portable toilet with Internet access.

Microsoft, whose British division had announced that the iLoo would debut at music festivals this summer, now says the revolutionary product will not appear after all. Microsoft representatives said iLoo had been discussed as a possibility and that someone within the company had simply jumped the gun.

“This was a tongue-in-cheek marketing initiative that was created in the [United Kingdom] for introduction in their specific market,” said Lisa Curry, a group product manager for MSN, the company’s Internet service, in a company statement. “After further review, we decided to not move forward with it.”

Microsoft had issued a press release touting the iLoo and had published an artist’s rendering of the product, which was to include a flat-screen plasma monitor, a wireless keyboard and outside e-mail terminals. To enable Internet access, the iLoo was to be hooked up to a wireless network.

The Washington Times and other news outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, Reuters and the Associated Press, ran stories based on the release, which had been posted on Microsoft’s U.K. Web site and distributed by the company’s outside public relations firm, Waggener Edstrom. The Times spoke with representatives at Waggener about the product.

Microsoft said the iLoo had been raised as a possibility during discussions of a campaign to show how the Internet can be accessed anywhere. Previous product introductions have included deck chairs and park benches with integrated Internet access.

“This was intended to be the next in line of a number of clever initiatives in [Britain] involving introducing the Internet in interesting locations,” the company said. “We regret that the press release was distributed before the program was finalized and apologize for any confusion that has resulted.”

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