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== CEI Conference on GEnie ==
On Thursday, December 22nd, The *StarShip* on GEnie was pleased to have
Alex Amor, of CEI, as our guest. He brought the latest developments and
news after making their bid for the Commodore assets last week.
Please feel free to give this important transcript widest possible
distribution in the Amiga Community. There were more than 150 people here
in attendance, and not all questions were answered. Please watch for a
supplemental document to be released after the holidays with other
questions and answers in it from the folks who did not get a chance to ask
at this conference.
<deb> Welcome and we're very glad you are here, Alex. I think you've got
some opening remarks?
<CEI-ALEX> Thanks deb...
To update all of you the following events occured within the last 7
days. CEI submitted an offer accompanied with a cash deposit to
the liquidator for the assets of Commodore. It is my understanding
that at least another party also submitted an offer due to the
non-standard bid form these offers were presented to the creditors
to be analysed. We have been asked to submit additional
documentation. But, my understanding is that the bid is currently
the highest bid for the assets. I expect the creditors to
determine the leading bid within the next seven days and set a date
for the auction no matter were we end up we are planning on
submitting a bid at the auction if we are not succesful in this
round. The signs are good since our deposit check was cashed by
the creditors. Now we'll see the next steps. That concludes the
update. Any questions?
<Zibri> Hi, Alex, this question was already asked before, but i wish to know
what are the "close future" plans of CEI for Amiga and what will be
the logo instead of the usual C= ?? if they changed or something i
<CEI-ALEX> Plans for the new Amiga Corporation would be to have a world-wide
logo contest. We are hoping to move the Amiga forward
technological and do something that C= failed to do (MARKETING).
There is room at the top to move the Amiga forward (68060, RISC,
better graphics, CD-ROM drive, etc.) he operating system needs to
improve as the sophistication improves.
<Robert in Fargo> My fear is that the new Amigas will not be priced
competitively. One can buy 486 PC's and '030 and '040 Macs with
CD's for about $1600. Will Amiga prices compete?
<CEI-ALEX> Yes, I fully understand where the current market is at. We will
always be slightly more expensive simply due to the lower volumes.
But, I visit the major computer stores and see what Apples and PCs
are selling for. There has never been a reason for the extreme high
prices other than greed on C='s part.
<Mike Simmons> Is Amiga the only platform for all formats,with Congress's
step and the White House to make Gov smater,faster and more
efficient can Amiga go the distances with the Mac's and IBM's when
Amiga gets back up and running?
The Amiga will never be the standard when it comes to computers You
kitchen does not have only one appliance...a toaster, microwave,
etc. The Amiga's benefits are clear. We need to emphasize the
strong points and attempt to move the technology forward and closer
to the main stream.
<Jason-AR> How about the chips, chipsets, designs, etc. that Commodore has in
closets that wouldn't be a priority to the new Amiga company? How
seriously would you pursue licensing or selling off those
<CEI-ALEX> C= had a number of projects on the drawing board, unfortunately
many of these projects were in early stages. Our first goal is to
produce the existing machines which there is a huge demand for,
next the diferent technologies need to be analysed and a direction
determined. Is the future AAA or 3D RISC or matbe even something
else? As far as licensing the technology the answer is YES.. Some
of our partners want to utilize the technologies in other
applications and we have agreed.
<Jason-AR> What I was really driving at was the past technology-things that
were never even Amigas-i.e. licensing/selling off the 64
<CEI-ALEX> I dont believe there is a lot of demand for the C64 technologies.
If someone is willing to pay us for it the FAB!:)
<DanWied> Does CEI have the source codes for Amix? And if so, how can the
development of Amix be continued when AT&T sold the source code to
Novell which now sells it as UnixWare?
<CEI-ALEX> No, remember CEI does not own any of the intellectual property
at this time. Part of the acquisition will be Amix. .... We
believe that it is very important for the future of the Amiga to
have multiple OSs.
<Rob Boyce> SMG has not shipped anything for a month (they said their
computer was down). When do you expect that spare parts will become
available for our amigas? e.g. rev11 buster, motherboards, etc. and
what about warrenty for buyers >april 93? GA
<CEI-ALEX> Obviously, I cannot speak for SMG. We are attempting to repair
as much product possible. Our repair staff has been doubled in the
past few weeks. Our contract manufacturer is aware of the need for
spare parts and that need is being addressed.
<Gary> Will those of us awaiting new A4000 motherboards under warranty
replacement get motherboards with the 3.1 ROMs?
<CEI-ALEX> All new Amigas will ship with 3.1. We will implement a special
price policy for C='s warranty repair customers.
<Lewis> I read in Amiga World a couple months ago that CEI was working on
something secret that tey would produce as soon as they got the
rights to Amiga. Is this true and if so, what isi it?
<CEI-ALEX> We promised a surprise when we complete the acquisition of C=.
Time will tell.!
<James Santiago> You have talked about licensing technology. Any plans for
the other way around as in an existing 060 board or maybe Sound
<CEI-ALEX> The Amiga technology can be the cornerstone of new derivative
products. There is no reason why we shouldn't attempt the "Trojan
Horse" syndrome i.e. An Amiga inside a PC.
<Zibri> On IRC conference you said that C= forgot the "low-price/good product
credo" in the last years (expecially about A4000 and A3000)...what
are YOU gonna do ? and what did you mean with "slightly more
expensive simply due to the lower volumes"? it sounds like a
"PILATO's HAND WASH" and will newer amiga have CROSS-MAC, EMPLANT
or PC-TASK-like applications in it's newer Operating System ?
<CEI-ALEX> Be REALISTIC, PC makers produce millions of PC in a typical year.
The Amiga has traditionally sold hundreds of thousands of units in
a year Their cost on chips, hard drives, etc is less.
<Zibri> yeah, but how much expensive? i am afraid of another A4000 syndrome...
<CEI-ALEX> At the same time there was no reason an Amiga 4000 should cost
$2500. Commodore was greedy. The intelligent customer is willing
to pay a few bucks more but not be racked over the coals. If you
think that you'll purchase an Amiga 4000T for for less than a 486Sx
then I think you are going to be dissappointed.
<CEI-ALEX> PS Multiple OS are important, yes Cross-Mac, yes Cross-Dos....
<Zibri> that's fine... but i think that commodore sold more a1200 witho
powerfull board instead of a4000.
<CEI-ALEX> The market for the A1200 is completely different than the 4000
market. Most 1200s are sold in Europe. The consumer wants
performance, connectivity with a television and the lowest price
(sounds a lot like the old 64)....
<Zibri> and A4000 doesn't even have a composite line out...lots of users use
amigas for home videos and titling and i think they can't be forced
to by VIDEO boards or other stuff.
<CEI-ALEX> There is no reason we can't capitalize on this formula.
Yes, all Amigas should have audio in/out, video in/out.
<Sean> a couple of related questions: How has the liquidation delay affected
your profit projections, in light of having missed the Christmas
season, and how do you plan to fund a significant marketing
campaign against the poor public perception of the Amiga? Will you
be aiming marketing to first time buyers or previous owners?
<CEI-ALEX> Our projections never included Christmas. At the same time we
believed that we would have control of the assets in Aug. This has
affected the timeframe and the profit projections We have a large
task ahead of us. First filling demand and trying to keep the
existing user base in check. Then comes the real tough job which
is attractive the new buyer. Enough funds have been set aside to
accomplish this. Our marketing funds exceed C='s marketing funds
for the last 2 years of operations.
<Gary Wolfe> Alex, I think Amiga fans everywhere are ecstatic! What are your
plans for the mass market? Myhope is for A1200's to sell ike
C-64's. A cash cow is needed to continue all levels of
development, I'd think. (1200's sell here [in Jax,FL]! Also, don't
forget the user groups! Cheap form of advertisement...
<CEI-ALEX> The best form of advertisement is our existing user base. We
have close to four million salespeople out there. It's going to be
tough to get wide market appeal but, we hvae to start somewhere.
Since being involved with the Amiga we have always supported the
local user groups and hope to expand that world-wide once we are
<kevin s. frost> how long will it take for a next generation amiga to see
the light of day, and do your plans for advertising include TV
spots in the US?
<CEI-ALEX> Development will resume immediately. Typically it takes 9 months
for new models, 18 months for new technology.
<Robert in Fargo> Currently one can buy an '030 Mac with 4 meg + 160 HD,
CD-rom, monitor, and software for $1299 in Fargo. Will you be able
to make and sell a 1200 package with HD and AGA-compatable monitor
for $800 or so to compete? GA
<CEI-ALEX> It's tough to discuss exact pricing until everything is
operational. The short answer is yes the A1200/CD/Monitor for
under a $1000 is possible.
<deb> Alex, Kevin asked before and you must have overlooked it, about TV
spots for the US?
<CEI-ALEX> No, the intial budget does not call for US TV spots. That would
have to come at a later time as distribution is improved in the US.
In Europe the need for TV is more important.
<Evil Genius> Some folks say that the C= buyer will simply produce enough
machines to fill demand, and then halt production. What assurances
do you offer about this speculation? Being orphaned once is enough
for me. Make me feel safe.
<CEI-ALEX> We've looked at that possibility and must admit it makes
financial sense. But, the difference is that I believe in the
technology, I have been involved with C= for 16 years. In other
words my heart, not only my wallet is in this venture.
<Mike Simmons> Alex, What attempts will be made to get some of the past
software developers and distributors that have dropped the Amiga
line re-interested in the Amiga here in the U.S.?
<CEI-ALEX> That looks like a two part'r.
First, if the Amiga is going to suceed we need all the developers
back. we can accomplish this by bundling products, co-marketing
programs, financial incentives, and hanving a true partnership.
Distribution is important also. Many times the consumer wanted to
purchase products and no dealers were available. We have hired a
consulting firm to locate and create a nation-wide dealer network
in North America. Many of the old dealers are willing to come
<Scott Sawyer, Egad Intl.> #1 Which markets will get Amigas first, U.S. or
European? (I'm a CEI dealer, I need Amigas... :-) #2 And, when
will the COD thing with CEI dealers end? GA
<CEI-ALEX> Plans call for both markets to get computers at the same time.
Once we announce our manufacturing partner it will become evident
of how this is possible. Unfortunately, due to the unstable market
with C= filing for liquidation, a few bad apples spoiled it for the
good dealers. As soon as the new corporation is operational,
dealer terms and conditions will be provided to existing
dealers.(Based on merit ;) )
<Jack> In previous conferences you said, that AAA Amigas will NOT be
produced, instead R&D will focus on RISC Amigas. Is this still
true? If so, I'm wondering, isn't it easier to produce AAA
machines which are 95% done (according to Dave Haynie), instead of
making whole new Amigas, with OS that has to be basically
re-written for RISC machines?
<CEI-ALEX> Jack, its hard to make firm decision without owning any of the
assets. I will have to take a look at the work in progress before
firm decisions are made. Do you realize that the AAA has been
around since before 1992? What I'm saying is lets take a look and
determine if its still viable today.
<Kelvin> What is your opinion of the new Amiga clone announced by
MacroSystems Germany? Will you support this type of clone machines
and willing to license the OS for it's use?
<CEI-ALEX> An Amiga clone is not an Amiga clone unless it can run ALL the
software and hardware. Macrosystems has a great idea a a lot of
work ahead. With the proper terms I see no reason why the OS can't
be licensed to them.
<CEI-ALEX> PS Macrosystems is a great developer and supporter of the Amiga.
<Jason-AR> Clarification: The DraCo is like an Amiga, minus the custom
chipset, plus a Retina for display hardware. The full announcement
is available in AR 2.34.
<daryl> What requirements will you but on new and current Dealers
and how will the buying effect your other services
<CEI-ALEX> This is not the forum to discuss dealer specifics. Existing
dealers that are proven are not a problem. Coverage in new areas
are deemed.. priority.
<floater> Assuming the situation resolves in a few weeks, when do you expect
to have product available? And I think you should work to have a
competent NYC dealer - which there hasn't been for YEARS!
<CEI-ALEX> Input taken on NYC. Amigas can be available in 60 to 90
days after court approval.
<Doug Cotton @ CMD> Following up on Jason's question on the older
(64/128) technology: Someone is indeed interested. Who should they
contact at CEI to discuss that further?
<CEI-ALEX> If you are interested in purchasing the 64 technology call
Dave Defelici at (305)266-2800 ext 108. Tell me its true PLEASE;)
<Doug Cotton @ CMD> It is.
<Demetri [Speed Demon]> What are the chances of getting back the old Amiga
crew, like Dave H, Mike S, Brian.Darren, etc, since with no more
people left at C= (USA), how do you plan to enhance the Amiga with
new features? Seems without the people who knew about the OS, the
hardware, its like starting over from scratch with a new crew. And
how about the floor scrubber, will it get upgraded?? :)
<CEI-ALEX> Jason is in charge of the floor scrubber....we have been in
contact with engineers who have left C= in the past 4 years. As a
general rule (no specifics) most of them are committed to the Amiga
and are willing to return if the conditions are right (free Pizzas
every night) ;). At he same time I believe that bringing in some
new blood might ad new.. perspective to our technology.
<Jason-AR> As for the floorscrubber, we are already planning to make sure
that the new flooscrubber technology is backwards-compatible with
all Amigas, and are working on a PCMCIA battery recharge interface.
<Alan> Alex, what would CEI's plans be for the CD-32? Would you market it
aggressively against the Sega and Nintendo in the U.S.?
<CEI-ALEX> Reality sets in. There is a market for the CD32 and we will
support it aggressively. But there is no feasible way of competing
head to head agaisnt Nintedo and Sega. Their ad budgets are beyond
belief. Let's concentrate on our strenghts and lets dominate those
<Rob Boyce> what was the status of the stuff in the warehouse in the
Phillipeens any thing of value? i have started to collect amigas
and am curious ;) CD32 will sell themselves once they become wide
<CEI-ALEX> The inventory in the Far East is in shambles. It will take many
months to sort out all the parts. There really is nothing a real
<Sam Ormes> New company name ? Headquarters location ? Will Miami store
remain ? Manufacturing locations ? GA
<CEI-ALEX> The working name is Amiga Technologies International but, that
is subject to change as things get closer. Based on the majority
of engineers residing. in the Philadelphia area we are looking for
<ERIC MORRITT> Given all the information about the intent to continue
manufacturing the AMIGA, dou you think it would be wise to base a
computer graphics business on the AMIGA technology?
<CEI-ALEX> If I had to answer your question today I'd say NO. We need to
move the Amiga forward and have it gain wide acceptance in a number
of new fields. Six months from now the answer should and will be
<Shane @ DUP> How will CEI support small programming companies like Dark
Unicorn Productions (developers kits, etc)? Also, is there any
truth to the rumor that MicroSoft is backing CEI? :( (Recommend
MUTT from Litil Divil as CD32 character! :)
<CEI-ALEX> The Amiga developer has been traditionally been a small home based
creator. Its important to remember this when setting prices on
development tools and providing the information for reasonable
<CEI-ALEX> Excuse me, that was Bill on the phone ;)
<CEI-ALEX> I'm sorry but do to the nature of the beast I am not able to
disclose who our partners are.
<Bill> and MacTV as seen on Mind Extension University's channel? If you're
not aggressive, nobody new will buy. GA
<Bill> Will you be agressive with your marketing like Apple is?
<CEI-ALEX> YES. Special pricing for schools, developers, print ads, direct
mail, etc. We realize that we must be aggressive.
<Odie> Will initial releases of the 1200 see 3.1 or any other changes?
How about future 1200's - 030? Akkiko? HD Floppys? CDROM? etc. GA
<CEI-ALEX> Yes 3.1 on the initial 1200s. The 1200s have a lot of room for
growth Built in CD, faster processors, more space for HDs, on board
memory expansion and much more.
<deb> [Gang, Alex is getting tired. No more /raises, or he'll be here _all_
<DavidM> Will there be any upgrade deals for current A4000 owners, ie like the
old trade up deals of yore, or possibly upgrade kits like a real
tower case kit with lots of slots and a larger power supply?
<CEI-ALEX> One of the few things which C= got right most of the time was
their upgrade policies. By utilizing standard form factor on
boards this becomes.. easier.
<Peter> Will you be the CEO of this new Amiga company? Do you plan to intro a
better OS (with RTG, networking, etc ...) before the next
generation of hardware? This does not include 3.2.
<CEI-ALEX> Titles are not important. Yes, RTG is something the Amiga needs
sooner than later. I see the ability to release yearly updates to
the operating system and price them reasonably. Instead of
releasing a new OS and charging an arm and a leg.
<CEI-ALEX> Improvements which I would like to see include RTG, networking
support, a more professional look, faster, etc.
<Mark> Have you had any recent contacts with the C= UK management team, and
if so what was the substance of those contacts? Competition at the
bidding stage is understandable, but when all is said and done, the
UK had the most successful and complete advertising machine, and
the UK market earned much of the bread and butter which went to
feed the production of the `high-end' AMIGAs so beloved in the US.
<CEI-ALEX> Mark, we have made a number of overtures to the UK management
team, unfortunately the decisions are not up to them. The opposing
group is composed of a red chinese investor and an Australian
financier. Yes, we are willing to work with them when all is done
<Keti> How much of the new tecnolgy will be made of off-the -shelf technology?
<CEI-ALEX> With RTG in place the ability to utilize off the shelve technology
becomes more attractive.
<Don> will we see beefer machines not 25 mhz stuff more like 40+ mhz...
it has to be cheaper for you to do it than for me to spend $1300
after I buy my new 4000T
<CEI-ALEX> YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES
<Bill Hinkle> Have you had discussions with any major retailers to sell
hardware and/or software?
<CEI-ALEX> Yes, in the past few months we have had plenty of opportunity to
speak with major retailers. All of them expressed reservations
about C= but, are willing to work with a new entity if the
conditions are right.
<deb> OK, folks, It is nearly midnight for Alex and he's tired. And I"m still
looking at a queue of over 2 dozen people with questions. If you
will leave me your question in email, either "Mail to sysops" at
menu or to me directly, I'll fax them to him and he'll get answers
back to you. Fair deal?
<deb> [Now that nobody else can talk, how can they argue?]
<deb> Thank you Alex, we have been keeping our fingers crossed.
<deb> We will continue to keep our eyes peeled for news.
<Jason-AR> (Or, they can always e-mail me and I will just call CEI and harass
the receptionists until someone owns up to actually being in the
<Jason-AR> Thank you, Alex, for once again violating your bedtime to have this
conversation with us.
<CEI-ALEX> Thank you for the opportunity and support...
<CEI-ALEX> In the past week we have received hundreds of notes, calls and
letters of support and ideas. THANK YOU ALL!
<deb> A big round of applause!