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System 03-22-2004 04:36 AM

What will drive the New Amiga?
 
What will it take to get the average "Joe" to consider purchasing the new Amiga (and compatible) platform in the future?

It's inarguable that the current situation with the future Amiga, and derivative products such as the Pegasos, et al., is a confusing, frustrating mess. No one knows quite who owns what, when they owned it, why "Fleecy" kept babbling about OS4 a year after they supposedly sold it, etcetera.

Disclaimer: I'm not here to play favorites and I really hope that everyone here knows and understands that I have almost no vested interest in either company. For the sake of this article, let's put the companies, their problems, and everything else aside (as we should be doing anyway -- although sadly it's become the best three-ring circus in town). Please take the time to understand the following sentence very clearly. In this editorial, when I refer to "the Amiga", for the purposes of brevity I mean the AmigaOne/OS4, Pegasos/MorphOS, and all the Amiga derivative products<sup><font size="1">1</font></sup> equally.

<font size="3">In the beginning...</font>

... every platform had a-buzzword alert!- "killer app" that brought people to the platform itself. The classic Amiga had-in my case-games like F/A-18 Interceptor that used 16-bit color when 16 colors on the PC was still a luxury and Apple computers were still monochrome. Remember, Windows as we know it today wasn't even born yet.

Then Commodore tanked and took Amiga with it; and then there were two. Support for the Amiga dried up and-a once laughable concept in Amiga's heyday-Macintosh took over in Amiga's absence and cornered the desktop publishing and graphics world with Photoshop and other programs.

Later, just as Gateway was looking to purchase Amiga, Microsoft was taking over in the office with Microsoft Office and Windows, which helped it invade the work place with great success. Different gaming platforms had different platform games, such as the Mario Bros. one of many franchises for Nintendo that helped them approach their target market.

Later in its life, the classic Amiga had the Video Toaster, true. That too however has been absorbed by the monolith from Seattle and Apple. Apple carved out a niche for graphics, video, and flashy stylish hardware, and Microsoft currently owns the workplace.

Can we lure those users back? The Amiga currently has no killer apps anymore; nothing worth switching platforms for. With all due respect to the individual authors intended, the OS doesn't even have a decent Web browser yet! So the task here would be to generate enthusiasm in the platform to get things developed. How could they do this?

<font size="3">Recruiting for a new (old) platform</font>

A new Amiga platform is going to have challenges recruiting good developers from other platforms because they can't offer the potential of a "million seller" like programs for Windows (and rarely the Mac) can. To recruit developers to your side you'd have to focus on doing a few main things:
  • Give away a lot of full systems. As Genesi is now discovering, this method doesn't automatically mean that the recipients will actually produce things for your platform.

  • Hire good, solid developers. I know that Amiga Inc. put their livelihood-and a great deal of money-into infiltrating the world of the "digital environment", but four years later that market is already becoming saturated, and not too many of us are interested in cellphone java apps.

  • Attract third-party developers. Some companies are easier to work with as a developer than others; be the easy kind. Don't charge a fortune for your SDK; take it on the chin for awhile financially and support third-party developers as much as you can afford to; it's them who'll be supporting your platform-or not.

  • Attract users. To get the world to switch to Amiga, there have to be "killer apps." But are there even any killer apps left for the desktop PC? The last I could have thought of (and did long before it was available) was a file sharing network. Windows developers beat us to it though, in the form of Napster, Kazaa, and about a thousand others. The only remaining possibility I could envision would be if someone could integrate my Tivo and my desktop computer... Dammit.... That's a Windows Media Center PC!

  • Most importantly: God forbid have a profitable venture. Let's face a hard fact here. While there is still a great deal of pride left in software development, and people can swallow their pride, they can't feed their families with it. Software development is a capitalist-driven adventure. Hyperbole aside, writing a commercial program these days is about making money; with competition like Microsoft you need to create a product that everyone wants badly enough to switch to a non-Windows compatible computer.

<font size="3">Community support?</font>

Some might ask "...But Wayne, what about shareware and freeware apps?", and I hear you. While there have been commercial products available, after the death of Commodore ten years ago, the classic Amiga platform has really been supported the last ten years by nothing more than freeware and shareware. As you see by Aminet though, over the last ten years, the graph has fallen completely away from shareware and freeware and is now mostly child products<sup><font size="1">2</font></sup> such as music files or 1k demos.

What drives sales of X-Box (and other) gaming hardware is the existence of new, exciting, and technologically advanced games. What drives the sale of the PC is a massive amount of available software; as well as the latest games, not ports of games from other platforms.

<font size="3">Murky future</font>

Let's presume for the sake of imagination that Amiga OS 4 is finally released this summer and both companies finally have saleable products that are available in the necessary quantities through proper distribution channels. In other words, say in a few months we finally have an even playing field. Then what?

Once on an even field, the question really becomes whether either company actually does the only thing that's important to the survival of the Amiga platform. To me, brand loyalty and religious zeal aside, that sole important thing is whether either company can actually generate (or motivate) the actual production of the useable, unique software that's required to keep the platform alive.

The answer, in my never-so-humble opinion, is simply "no." Neither Amiga Inc, KMOS, nor Genesi have anything in place to promote, support, or push many developers in the right direction beyond a few dead mailing lists and Tao's intent documentation. Genesi in my opinion seems to be taking baby-steps in the right direction with the MorphOS Developer Connection (MDC - http://mdc.morphos.net/). I'm sure that the Amiga people have their own NDA'd version of things, but even that isn't enough , I feel, because it's only known by people who've actually heard of the Amiga-and that number is quickly dwindling.

My point is: without real software the Amiga is a PowerPC Linux machine or, in the case of the classic Amiga, a toy with no remaining commercial purpose. That's how far the classic Amiga platform has sunk after being mishandled by a handful of just seemingly clueless parent companies. It's kind of like browsing the Internet with your Commodore 64. It can be done, but why?! Similarly, the fact that you can browse the Internet on your Amiga (or Pegasos) won't sell a single motherboard when people can run out and buy a cheap PC system, take it out of the box, turn it on, insert a CD, and do what they want.

I would love to hear anyone's ideas on how to stimulate software development, taking into consideration that neither Amiga Inc. nor Genesi seem to be really able to pour money into it like they should. At this point, we can only hope KMOS - whomever they may be - will be a step in the right direction. The only remaining question and concern on my mind is "Who is this new KMOS, and why have they owned the AmigaOS but been silent for almost a year?"

<font size="3">A new hope?</font>

At the end of my little ramble here, I'd like to point out that all is not yet lost. While I honestly do not believe any platform will ever reach the pinnacle of success seen by Microsoft's Windows, it's still very possible to adapt the future of our platform to non-desktop machines, and no, I'm not talking about AmigaDE.

Devices like the "Mini-ITX" form factor (thanks Xeron for the correction) AmigaOne open up all sorts of avenues for small embedded devices such as Digital Video Recorders (DVR), or, better yet, a Digital Video Studio (Server) in a small, portable box. Can you say "$300 Digital Media creation laptop server?" I hope we all can someday.

<hr>
<font size="2"><sup>1</sup> Excluding systems that shipped with Linux (after all, who really cares about Linux on either hardware platform?), which of us would have actually purchased either expensive solution specifically to run Linux? I'm betting very few, if any.</font>

<font size="2"><sup>2</sup> Child products are those downloads which are not truly products in themselves, but things like mods and pictures that have been created with another already existing product.</font>

xeron 03-22-2004 04:47 AM

Re: What will drive the New Amiga?
 
Hi Wayne.

Interesting article. I think you mean "Mini-ITX" form factor AmigaOne, though.

System 03-22-2004 04:48 AM

Re: What will drive the New Amiga?
 
That's the one. Very small.

Hammer 03-22-2004 04:56 AM

Re: What will drive the New Amiga?
 
>Later, just as Gateway was looking to purchase
>Amiga, Microsoft was taking over in the office
>with Microsoft Office and Windows, which helped
>it invade the work place with great success.

Before MS Office there was Lotus and Word Perfect for the PC...

>Give away a lot of full systems. As Genesi is
>now discovering, this method doesn't
>automatically mean that the recipients will
>actually produce things for your platform.

Middleware could an issue, e.g. MONO dotNET would be ideal.

Genesi may have to assess the type of software vendors e.g. targeting CRM/MIS vendors (i.e. software companies that actually solving business problems and has access to real business rules).

For example, we use HP PCs for value adding our custom MIS/Knowbased Systems/Accounting software.

System 03-22-2004 05:16 AM

Re: What will drive the New Amiga?
 
Quote:

Before MS Office there was Lotus and Word Perfect for the PC...
Granted, but neither really had the "market cornering impact" of Office, much the same as there were browsers before IE, but IE is taking over the browser market.

I honestly believe that either KMOS, or Genesi could wing their way into the "Middleware" market, but only with dedicated devices, and none of these are what we would ever recall as being "an Amiga" -- unless they want to follow the mistakes of Sony, Nintendo, and Sega by introducing a new gaming platform.

Damion 03-22-2004 05:27 AM

Re: What will drive the New Amiga?
 
Wayne I think you've made some great points. Right now, I basically
see the A1/Pegasos as "expensive toys for amiga/ex-amiga nuts" and
honestly don't see the desktop as the ultimate (successful) future for
either.

Innovation is really the answer here...rebuilding the "amiga" to run on
semi-modern hardware is definately cool, although it's not going to
sell outside a few thousand hobbyists.

The "Q-Box" and OS5 ideas are a start, as far as combining some sort
of amiga concept into a modern hw/sw structure...however, do the
originators of these concepts even have any idea of what they mean,
or where they're headed? (probably not)

Ways these platforms could sustain:

1: Innovate the "amiga" ideas into a modern concept (as above), hope there's a market for
it and it sells (realistically I don't see this happening)

2: Companies involved score major hardware contracts (also unlikely IMO)

3: Develop the OS's into something far more usable/stable/modern, and hope to
somewhat subsist catering to a broader "niche" market (I see this as 'possible')

4: ?

IMO, the future for a continually developed AOS lies ultimately in AROS. MorphOS
and the Pegasos is great, and I'm sure OS4 will be fun for it's users, but I think
Genesi/KMOS(?) will have to pull a rabbit out of their respective hats.

pjhutch 03-22-2004 05:32 AM

Re: What will drive the New Amiga?
 
What you need is SOFTWARE and good quality software to run on it.
If the software is old or rubbish, no matter how good the A1 hardware or OS is, they won`t buy it and stick to Consoles or PC.

At the moment, this is NO software to speak of. You could count it on one hand.

Games drove the first Amiga models (esp the A500)
so getting ports of popular games across and some original software will get people their wallets out....

I left the Amiga scene at the end of 1999 due to the age of my 1200 and the lack of good quality software. It had practically dried up.

puppy 03-22-2004 05:54 AM

Re: What will drive the New Amiga?
 
It's clear enough:

MiniITX AmigaOne, nice case, Amizilla, USB stuff, Quake Saga and some other LAN party games, some good emulators, and/or versions of main programs for PC and Mac :-)

System 03-22-2004 06:00 AM

Re: What will drive the New Amiga?
 
@puppy,

I would love if those things were available, but ports of things already available for a (far cheaper) PC are not going to pursuade people to give up the PC in the first place.

*If* the future Amiga platform has any place on the desktop (or entertainment center) it has to serve an ORIGINAL and exciting purpose, not just another way to play that which is available elsewhere.

Acill 03-22-2004 06:01 AM

Re: What will drive the New Amiga?
 
One think I know for sure and feel even more so now that I have started thinking of getting a Peg II is OS4 better come fast. They are falling WAY behind MorphOS and could get left in the dust.

redrumloa 03-22-2004 06:33 AM

Re: What will drive the New Amiga?
 
From purely an end user perspective, MorphOS seems to be heading in the right direction. I agree it's baby steps but it is more than I see ATM from the OS4 side. I mean absolutely no disrespect to Hyperion when I say this.

1)Office: Papyrus supposedly near completeion.
2)Browser: Supposedly Intent/DE can bring FireFox
3)Java: Intent/DE gives that
4)Modern media players: MPlayer does quite well, though could use a better UI
5)Developers: The Phree boards and MDC is a good start

It seems some of the critical apps are being addressed. While the steps above certainly don't guarantee anything, it seems to be sure death without. I could be wrong, but I haven't seen these things addressed at all for OS4.

Khephren 03-22-2004 06:39 AM

Re: What will drive the New Amiga?
 
Some good points all round here I think.

My belief in what drove the original Amiga market are based on several things. I got my A500 for games, some of the best games, anywhere at the time. Once I owned it, I realised both the hardware and OS were cutting edge, and I branched out into graphic design, and 3d modelling.The Amiga got me my job in the games industry, nothing else I could of afforded would have allowed that.
I see nothing cutting edge in any of the new succesors to AmigaOS. People flocked to the Amiga because they wanted to work on something brilliant, at a very competative price (compared to the mac/wintels).The new machines cannot compete with the price of wintel boxes.
So what have we got- Users? fewer every year, now spread over two platforms. {bleep}iness between the two which would never have happened in the old, unified Amiga community.
Software? Most of the games developers/ software developers have moved on. One thing about the Ami was the fact that she had some of the best software anywhere, but our competitors did not realsie it until it was ported to their machine (which most of it now has been). The exclusive smugness I got from being able to use imagine,lightwave,Cinema4D,Pagestream has gone now-they are either available on other platforms or gone completly from our own.
Without state of the art OS/hardware, lots of software,lots of users, decent price- where is there for the Amiga to go? I don't see anywhere other than a small old school community of fans.

kognesty 03-22-2004 06:51 AM

Re: What will drive the New Amiga?
 
I belive this editorial deserves some thought before truely posting a comment but I haven't the time just yet so I'll say this.

Much as Linux took the world by means of simply being hardware independent through massive open source support I feel that the Amiga could find some success through this avenue. Become hardware independent and easier to install and use with Microsoft (evil idea but Linux still hasn't gotten it through their head they need to do this).

It really wont work as a Hardware thing, the Amiga of old is dead and gone and unique and interesting hardware just wont win without being dirt cheap and easily usable with any kind of software so I think the Amiga community needs to give up on this venture. When you can buy a cheap Dell for 400 bucks that will do everything one might want, it just isn't worth it to spend a couple thousand for a computer with no software support.

Anyway, this is only a taste of my thoughts and I really enjoyed the article. I wish the original Amiga had survived, as it was truely an amazing piece of engineering for its time and clearly thinking well outside the box of todays hardware.

dammy 03-22-2004 06:51 AM

No AROS mentioned?
 
I think you've missed the third leg in the Amiga Community, AROS. AROS offers something the other two do not, x86 support and a open source OS for the Community. No shell games over IP. No more law suits. No more broken promises of employment. No more being locked into vender hardware. Just coders, users, and a few companies who are interested in AROS and will support AROS. If that doesn't remind you what the Amiga Community spirit is all about, you've using Windows too much. :lol:

Dammy

System 03-22-2004 07:30 AM

Re: No AROS mentioned?
 
@Dammy,

Didn't miss it at all. AROS is not a company, nor does it even have 1/4 the resources and contacts of any existing "Amiga company". Leave it to you however to try and take any subject and point it to AROS. :-)

mindful 03-22-2004 07:34 AM

It's simple you silly ...
 
Ever heard Meya singing her song called 'It's all about the money'? Not? May I share my thinking..?

For the average "Joe" it's not about who or what is out there. It's simply about how far he can reach out. So mabye the Amiga do not really need that special-new-killer-application after all. Now if Joe can afford to reach out for all of them, then what?
Some Joes might take one. Some Joes might take two. Any some confused Joes might take all 3 of them (Amiga, PC and a MAC)

If price is not an issue, then what is?
Amiga don't need any new great idea become no. 1 once again. We just need to do the exact same things as anyone else do, except a lot better. (Yeah! I remember Steve Jobs. But who can really afford a Mac?)

BTW, Who is not eager to swap out Windows for something a bit more reliable..?

Chas916 03-22-2004 08:03 AM

Re: It's simple you silly ...
 
One thing that could help drive the Amiga is that it isn't Windows. Amiga should chose markets where being a small player is a plus. Windows is so ubiquitous that it is very easy to hack or have infected by spyware or viruses. I doubt the markets for dedicated computing devices where sensitive information is made available would go to a Windows client or server. Medical systems - hospital devices, home care medical devices, financial systems - ATM, cash registers, POS systems, automation systems - robotics, vending machines. There are entire industries that rely on such equipment, even when the economy is weak healthcare, banks, foodservice, and manufacturing continues.

These are systems that are perfect for the Amiga. The thing they need though are great RAD development tools such as AmigaVision or Macromedia products, and mature visual C, JAVA, or BASIC programming tools that support advanced technology such as XML and SOAP.

Amiga would then be wise to court large companies such as Panasonic, Sharp, and Sony to use the Amiga OS in their products.

The sales and use of the OS in these devices would help feed Amiga in the business end so that it could supply general computing devices for the hobby end of the market. The most we could hope for is to have the Amiga be as strong as it was when the A500 was released.

MarkTime 03-22-2004 08:42 AM

Re: What will drive the New Amiga?
 
Well, I'm trying to think of an analogy, perhaps I will use one from the world of politics.

In the United States we have only two political parties right? Democrats and Republicans.

Wrong. We have only two 'major' political parties. 3rd parties like Natural law, Green Party, Libertarian Party, even socialist parties, remnants of the Reform party, not only exist, but in terms of 'profitability' they are healthy.

OK, before I digress too much. This does relate to Amiga. If you want to establish a profitable platform, you can. If you want to compete with windows, you won't.

Any one of these little political parties that thinks its going to compete with the established,entrenched major parties, is a failure. Any one of these little parties that takes it's own membership from last year, as a baseline, and then targets membership growth, can report a success of 25% on a year over year basis.

There is a market for the Amiga.
If you can accept what the Amiga is today.
Establish a baseline.

And then improve on that.

Then you will have success.

If you have your head in the clouds, then you will only ever see utter, complete, dismal, failure.

The problem here, is Genesi and Amiga, Inc. (don't know about KMOS) they don't know what there market is, and can't address the market that exists, because they cannot even see it. They simply lack the ability to take their heads out of the clouds.

mikeymike 03-22-2004 08:45 AM

Nitpick alert
 
Quote:

... every platform had a-buzzword alert!- "killer app" that brought people to the platform itself. The classic Amiga had-in my case-games like F/A-18 Interceptor that used 16-bit color
Erm, are you sure about that? 64k colours on an A500 simultaneously?

System 03-22-2004 09:04 AM

Re: Nitpick alert
 
Quote:

Erm, are you sure about that?
No. It was actually quite a debate, but we couldn't find anything that could confirm it at the time it was written. If you read the entire article and came away with that as your only question, we need to get you away from the microscope more often :)

Wayne


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