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               What The Amiga Needs To Survive In Australia
  John Pospisil                         

The current Australian Amiga distributor can't be serious -- not about
selling computers anyway.

Why, might you ask, do I say this?

Recently, I wrote a book, "How to buy a computer", in which I included a
short section about the Amiga.  In a market dominated by Wintel, and to a
lesser extent Macintosh, I thought this was a nice little gesture for my
personal favourite computer, the Amiga.  An initial conversation with the
distributor was positive -- the sales manager said he would be happy to
supply a picture of an Amiga 1200 for the book.

Unfortunately, when it came time to send me the picture, the sales manager
didn't return my calls.  I did eventually manage to get a picture of a
1200, thanks to Storm Front Studios, which was then still publishing the
Australian Amiga Review.

I haven't seen any Amiga advertising, nor have I seen any evidence of PR
activity on behalf the Australian distributor.  I have heard that an Amiga
advertisement did appear in the Age.

"The Australian" newspaper does very occasionally publish Amiga articles,
but they seem to be sourced from the US.  Two recent examples were the
Eagle attempt at buying Amiga Technologies and the Viscorp announcement of
the ED.

Another project I have been involved in is the development and launch of a
new computer magazine for a well-known Australian consumer organisation.
It's designed for people who don't go for all the hype that tends to appear
in most other computer magazines.  In the first issue we did a story about
cheap computers for under $2000.  Is the Amiga mentioned?  No!  As editor
of the magazine, I don't think it is appropriate to report on a product
that is all but invisible in Australia (as much I would like to).

So the Amiga completely out of the race?

In my opinion, there is a huge market for a sub $1000 computer.  Even
computers that costs $2000 (expect to pay $3000 to $4000 for a brand-name
PC in Australia) are still beyond the means of many working people (C and
Ds the marketing people call them).  Get a $900 computer that connects you
to the Internet into a store like Harvey Norman (a very popular superstore
here in Australia) and you'll sell thosuands of the bloody things.

My two-bits worth

For all it's worth, here's my advice to anyone who's remotely serious
aabout selling Amigas in Australia.

1.  Get the price right.  An Amiga 1200, V34 modem and software bundle
should cost AUS$899.  It has to cost less than a $1000, the physchological
price point for many people.  As long as it does the basics, such as
connect to the Internet, word process, run spreadsheets, most people won't
care what the hell is under the cover.  As long as it feels and looks like
a 'real' computer, most people will be satisfied.  If it's impossible to
get the machines out at this price, than someone along the line has stuffed
up big time.  Even with smallish production runs, how expensive can it be
to make a 68020-based computer with 2 MB RAM?

2.  Abandon the discredited strategy of selling only through small dealers.
The truth may be that no big distributors want to take the Amiga again, but
**IT IS** important to try to get Amiga into the larger stores.  Market
share does count.

3.  Get someone to do PR -- do it inhouse for Christ's sake, if you can't
afford a PR agency.  At least let the media know you exist, and that you're
selling a worthwhile product.  Returning their calls is a start.

4.  And while you're at it, develop some point of sale strategies.  Talk to
an advertising company about small, but interesting, display ads in the
computer sections of the metro dailies.

5.  Support any of the user groups that have managed to survive.  Feed them
information, give them prizes to raffle off, etc

All these things may seem very obvious -- but they're things the current
distributor seems to totally ignore.

As for me, I work everyday with the latest and greatest PCs and Macs.  And
yet somehow I still find my Amiga more interesting and fun to use than even
the fatest PCs.  I know it's probably irrational, but I kinda think it's
got something to do with my Amiga having a little character.

Oh, and here's the obligatory disclaimer.  These opinions are my own, and
do not represent the opinions of my employer.  If anyone wants to drop me a
line, including all you Amiga-loving venture capitialists out there, my
e-mail address is