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== Reader Mail ==
I've just read AR314. And I'm writing (for the first time) to say so long.
During the five or so years that I've owned an Amiga, I've been one of it's
most vehement, confrontational and persuasive proponents in the city I live
in. Although I own and work at a record store, I am constantly talking
computers with various customers and friends, and have always turned the
conversation into an evangelical plea for the computer users in this
country to drop their PC clones and Mac cubes and invest in a computer that
can truly allow them to lead their lives without the limitations that "the
other two" impose on them. Don't wait for a disk to format OR a file to
print, buy a computer that can do two things at once. Don't bother with
DOS or Windows when you can have both. Don't spend money on another 4Meg
SIMM, buy a computer that sips memory like a bird. Don't worry about
spending money and time on graphics adapters and sound cards, buy a
computer that has it already, for no "extra" and which needs no IRQ's.
Don't buy a computer that requires you to pay for style and name and
condescends to your serious needs, buy one that is built on substance and
And you know, a very few people actually listened, and went out of their
way (55 miles to nearest dealer from my apartment in Huntington, WV) to
purchase an Amiga.
But their are some very odd facts that have kept most people in the land of
the "others". This is how I see the past, present and future of the Amiga
in the United States.
First, and foremost, I've got to speak on the most trivial aspect of the
Commodore Amiga, the name.
The first thing anybody in the US remembers about Commodore is the C64 that
is still sitting in their old room at their parents house, gathering dust,
or possibly still being used by Mom to write you letters while you're in
college. The next thing they remember is... nothing for a LONG time.
Then they hear that Commodore, makers of the Amiga computer, are out of
business. They have probably heard of the Toaster, of course, but that is
often mistakenly associated to the Mac platform in the mass media (I guess
they figure that if it doesn't look like a Windows screen, then it must be
a Mac). Maybe a lucky soul like the ones here in Huntington have a wacky
friend who is willing to go out on a limb and rant for an hour about a
computer that they have never even seen, and so, vicariously, experience
the Amiga's better qualities. But mostly, when you say "Amiga", people say
Strike One; no brand recognition, except nostalgia, in a country that
cannot see the Amiga through the haze of commercials and hype for those
other brands. No Wal-Mart circular has ever sported an Amiga, overpriced
or not. No funny logo or commercial with cool monks has ever swayed an
opinion toward the Amiga. No hour-long, overly-friendly,
three-easey-payments infomercial has taken up a lazy Sunday afternoon and
tempted the credit card holder to "Go Amiga, Amigo". Nothing. And that is
nobody's fault any more. That's all history.
The second item is a case in point.
A close friend, after years of using a Mac Classic, was considering the
jump to another platform. He wanted to be able to do musical stuff,
mostly, so I went to bat for the Amiga. I showed him how similar my OS was
to his Mac's, I showed him catalogs and Amiga World's and talked a good
game. Another friend was leading him toward the Atari, and still another
was a Mac user and told him it was easier to stay Mac. The Connectix
QuickCam decided it all for him. A $99 camera and clever software. The
closest thing on the Amiga is $250 or so, and we couldn't find anything
like it for the Atari. He saw that thing in a big, glossy, well planned
and executed MacMall catalog. On the next page he saw a Powerbook 150 for
$999, he picked up the phone at 8pm that evening, and had them at his door
at 11am the next morning. Just like that, another potential Amiga buyer is
lost due to, in my opinion, the combination of three things, that tie very
closely together (as any Marketing 101 prof would tell you), product,
placement, and promotion.
Strike Two; the Amiga loses on product because it has steadily become more
expensive to own, relative to the others. Commodore has always gone the
low-end/high-end route and there was never an Amiga that carried that most
ideal of computer price tags $1500. Always a cheap-o unit and a
"professional" model. The former was regarded as a toy (fair or not, that
is what many consumers feel when they see Amigas only slighly more
expensive than a game machine) and the latter was always just a little out
of range. Also, I've never heard of an Amiga buyer picking up the phone
and getting their system next-day-aired to them. As a matter of fact, I
know a guy who paid for a defective A1200, and after grudgingly returning
it, waited over a year before getting his money back and moving on. One
final dig at every potential buyer out their is the incredibly inflated
used market, where you'd better be willing to pay near retail for a used,
hacked, or (often) stock system.
As for placement, well, we all have vented plenty about how Amigas should
have been donated to schools and businesses for legitimization purposes,
and how a nice catalog from a vendor would be great to lure prospective
buyers. No offense to anyone out there who has struggled to continue
selling Amigas, but the catalogs that I have seen from several companies
fail on many levels to both show the power of the Amiga and to properly
place and market their products. The best I saw were those from Amigaman
and Tenex, but even they were not up to par.
And as far as promotion is concerned, no amount of money could reverse the
horrible lack of even simple concern that Commodore showed to its own user
base, let alone begin to establish the Amiga in this country as a viable
alternative to the might of Microsoft, IBM or Apple.
And now we learn from AR (love you guys and wish you the best), that the
A1200, Escom's only real hope for digging into the mass market in this
country, is dead. The A4000T is going to be outrageously overpriced and
still missing the essentials in a computer of that price level, a CDROM,
16bit sound, 24bit graphics, and a monitor. No hope for even an '030 1200,
or a 1200CD, or anything, except that (now) $2700 A4000.
I've tried for years to help this computer system out in a very real way.
I talked to people around me and tried to sway opinion. I played salesman
and never got (nor would have accepted) any commission, attention, or even
thanks. I often just got dull stares, but still that didn't dim my
enthusiastic light. I wanted people to see that light. Now I realize that
that light is a cop, and he works for Escom, and he wants me to step out of
the car, please.
Enough is enough.
I only hope that those folks over at the Amiga OS replacement project are
cooking up something big, because my next computer, unfortunately, will be
something that won't be able to give me AmigaDOS.
And I hope that all of you out there would consider this letter an
expression of my current state of mind and a product of years of
desparately clinging to the hope that the Amiga would pull through, and not
and excuse to flame me to prove your undying loyalty. But if you must,
well, bring it on, I can take it.
- I haven't heard anything out of the Amiga OS Project for months now.
But if it's a reason to stick with the Amiga you're looking for, I can
only offer the fact that we have one of the most unique communities in
the world. That, and we're the last barrier to complete
Microsoft/Apple dominance in all but the smallest of niche and
enthusiast markets (Atari ST, C-64, et al). Tough job, big
responsibility, I know. But that's what AR is for-to make coping with
the responsibility a bit easier. -Jason
Well, I just got done reading the "Escom/U.S. distributor meeting" article
in AR 3.14 & it really depressed me. I can say that I will not be buying a
4000T as I had anticipated. I just cannot see me putting anymore money
into this platform (and I have spent SEVERAL thousand dollars on it
already). It seems, from what I read between the lines anyway, that they
are going in for a quick kill, recoup some of their bucks & that will then
be the end. Maybe I am wrong, but that is the impression that article gave
me. I have been running The Gateway BBS on Amiga's for several years,
starting out with an A500 with a GVP A530 & finally moving up to the
current system which is built around an A3000T. I won't go into all the
details of the system as that is irrelevant to this letter but I have
definetely been a staunch supporter of the Amiga platform & always been
more than happy to show it off to my ibm users. Many have been impressed
but there will always be others that go through life with blinders on &
will not believe anything besides what microsoft tells them to believe. I
will continue to run The Gateway BBS on my Amiga 3000T till it dies but I
will move on to other computers so that I do not fall behind on my
knowledge of different systems. I currently have a home built clone
running linux & it works quite well so I will not be without a computer
when the 3000T dies. My hopes had been high for Amiga Technologies but now
my heart aches miserably. :( I hope my feelings are wrong but
unfortunately all the signs are there telling me I am not. I guess I
should close this out...I just needed to get it off my chest, so to speak.
Sysop - The Gateway BBS
Biloxi, MS USA
- Everyone, AR included, wants the respective gut feelings worldwide to be
wrong. Amiga Technologies is made up of falliable human beings like
the rest of us. Unfortunately, the task ahead doesn't allow for many
cock-ups. Hopefully, the right decisions will be made, and soon.
And, for a different, short take on the AmiJAM show...
From: email@example.com (Rob Gow)
Here's a quick hack review fo Amijam calgary. Not as big of a turnout as I
thought, but I thought it was worth the 5 hour drive I made to attend.
Good deals on stuff (If I had any money :-) And the seminars easily
justified the trip.
Wish list for A4000T
2 power supplies for Flyer owners to let the Video Drives spin up
68060 on board (Cyberstorm or otherwise)
10 Drive bays (I have a minimal system and I'm using 6 drives :-(
RAM not an issue since it can be bought after
Easily pay $3000 US but don't want to pay $3500 Bare bones with an I want
EsCom to do some good with our machine, and I want a 4000T as badly as
anyone, but face it, as Amiga users, we are not stupid.
I would find it very hard to justify $3500 US for a 4000T, I'd rather buy
the Teraclipse 233Mhz DEC Alpha for that price, and we've owned Amiga's
since the 1000. If they price it too high, everyone might wait for the
next generation of Amiga, but with everyone waiting, no money will be
spent, EsCom will think Amiga is a dog and drop it. I think $2000 - $2500
is more in line for what they want to offer in a 4000T. First off, the RAM
would have to be updated, and then the Processor, not to mention a 540 MB
drive is almost getting a little small these days.
But hey, who am I, no one, just a rabid Amiga user like all the others who
are hoping for some good to come from this sale. Amiga users are really a
devout community who have supported our platform through these dark times,
but I think we deserve a little respect. Because we are hungry for new
machines, hopefully we won't be taken advantage of.