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compt.sys.editor.desk By: Jason Compton
And so, it has come to pass. The unforseeable contingency has not popped
up, the arrangements have not fallen through, the money has not fallen
short. Gateway 2000, by their own announcement at the World of Amiga show
this weekend in the UK, has completed their acquisition of Amiga
Technologies. Their fully-owned subsidiary, Amiga International, is
establishing offices in Langen, Germany, and expects to be operational in
Petro Tyschtschenko and Gateway's Jim Taylor, Senior Vice President of
Global Marketing, addressed a press conference on Friday. The transcript
of their speech is in the News section of the issue.
So! Here we are, May 1997, awaiting the launch of a new attempt at
revitalizing the Amiga. The backer is once again a large PC cloner,
well-known within their home market and looking to expand their business.
At the Amiga helm once again is Mr. Tyschtschenko, who stuck with the
bankrupt Amiga Technologies, working with companies trying to complete an
acquisition of the Amiga. And here we are, presumably still sticking with
the program, waiting to see what happens next.
I said it two years ago when Escom bought the Amiga, and I'll say it again:
I'm just glad it's all over. While the acquisition doesn't change any of
our lives overnight, it does at least put a close to the unpleasant 13
months between the first indication that Escom was looking to sell the
Amiga in the now infamous April 1996 joint announcement with VIScorp and
There are a lot of things that need to be done. Don't think I'm going to
launch into a 12-step program for What I Think Gateway Has To Do. What's
more important is what YOU should be doing. You, the Amiga user. Because
you have some responsibilities in this game as well.
You actually have quite a bit to be happy about. No, not everything that
has happened over the past year, two years, three years, four years, etc.
has been good for the Amiga. Certain "bright sides" are more valid to look
at than others. One somewhat popular theory is that some rather publicized
departures among users and developers from the Amiga market has somehow
"weeded out the chaff leaving better behind." This is only consistent
thinking if you don't hope for expansion of the user and developer base,
which the vast majority of people seem to actively hope and campaign for.
No, there are other ways in which we've made out pretty well that don't
necessarily have to involve big fights.
For starters, in more ways than one, Amiga users are getting the sort of
company they've wanted ever since Commodore. How many times did people
complain that Commodore was cold, distant, unresponsive, and uncaring about
its user base? How huge was the outcry when John DiLullo, a high-ranking
Commodore official, made an offhanded remark about certain highly
enthusiastic elements of the Amiga userbase being very counterproductive to
the Amiga's popularity?
A few years later, we have Gateway--a large company to be sure, but one
with a strong reputation for reachability, customer interaction, and what I
can only term as "homeyness." Today, in 1997, Petro Tyschtschenko can't
say enough about how wonderful Amiga users are.
Meanwhile, Gateway is a very visible company in the US (important to
beleagured North American users who feel like they've been ignored for too
long) with an eye towards the rest of the world and operations already
underway in Europe.
Users got what they wanted in that a single company picked up all of the
Amiga's assets at once. There was a great fear that liquidation would see
the assets parcelled off, turning hope for future development into a
headache of difficult licensing issues. But Gateway holds the entire
keyring and they're saying "license, license, license"--and since Amiga
users typically like to see the technology proliferate, this is a good
Gateway has invited user input. They have invited themselves into one of
the most watched Amiga user events. They've taken our phone calls and
e-mail and done their best to reply. And Job #1 according to Petro is
"Supporting the existing Amiga community." If this isn't an invitation for
all of us to come right to their doorstep, I don't know what is. AI is
opening their hands and saying "What can we do for you?"
But like any invitation, this is one we all have to consider carefully.
This is not Petro inviting you to call up any Gateway representative and
deliver a 10-minute missive on what they should and should not do, how they
can never live up to Jay Miner's legacy, and how you'd like to see Medhi
Ali's head on a pole. If you want to ask about the situation of the
warranty on your new Amiga 1200, don't call somebody's home at 4:00 in the
morning. (Yes, this happened to me. More than once.)
Consider it more like a job interview. If you're going to call, write a
letter, write an e-mail, or talk with a Gateway/AI representative at an
upcoming event, be conscientious. Identify what's important to you and ask
about it. This is not a license to ask for the world from Gateway because
you're not going to get it. But we've been given an open invitation to
help AI prioritize the future of the Amiga, and it's an opportunity that is
not likely to come again if we can't handle the responsibility.
Now, it's very true that Gateway did not lay out a lot of details at WOA
UK. Personally, I didn't expect them to, but some people were under the
impression that there would be spec sheets handed out for the next three
generations of Amiga computers. Of course, this is difficult for
Gateway--all they can do is step up to the microphone and say with
earnestness in their hearts "We have been very busy with the details of the
acquisition" but uneasy minds like to have answers.
Let me be one of the first to step forward in defense of Gateway. Give
them time. Plunging ahead into ideas based on just one or another set of
advisements is a sure recipe for trouble. If you're part of a project
that's doing research or planning to do research into future-generation
Amiga technology and you haven't had a discussion with Gateway yet, don't
take it personally. And if you HAVE been in discussions with them, don't
presume that yours is the only true way simply because you say it is so.
Much as I am an opponent of honing in on one specific word in a press
release and extracting its possible significance to extreme degrees, I do
think something Petro mentioned is worth noting. The word "assist" shows
up three times in relation to Amiga development in his address. The
message is that Gateway/AI will not be undertaking 100% of the R&D and
decision-making necessary to improving upon the Amiga design. They plan to
work with those in the market who are set up in progress on such projects.
And if THIS isn't something the market has been begging for, I don't know
In difficult times, it's tough to know who to listen to. For years, Amiga
users have dealt with doomsayers in the press, in their communities, in
their workplaces, and online. The temptation is great to give in to
soundbite attacks on Amigas, particularly from those whose prior
involvement with the Amiga lends a superficial sense of legitimacy, or
those whose involvement with Amiga emulation makes them feel as though
they've revealed that the Amiga emperor has no clothes, our lives are a
sham and we should buy a Pentium and run his UAE port. But Amiga computing
is, and remains, about you, your computer, and the people you choose to
associate with and the companies you choose to buy your products from.
Everything else is wasteful distraction.
The Amiga is now Gateway 2000's charge. It is theirs to make a success of,
and our responsibility to help them along the way. Good luck to Gateway,
from all of us at Amiga Report.