A massive hello to all my fellow Commodore/Amiga enthusiasts. It is a real pleasure to have this opportunity to give you the true facts about many of the events that shaped and contributed to the rich history of what was an incredible company during arguably one of the most profound periods of technological development. As I believe there are many questions you would like answered, I have decided from the outset, that these articles will be random (in terms of chronological order) but I hope you will like these snippets which are directly from the inside. Enjoy! I must firstly make it clear that I believe the primary reason why Commodore went Bankrupt was because they never ever had a plan – of any sort.
The Amiga 600 Debacle
In March 1991 after analysing all the results for Christmas sales, it became obvious that the Commodore 64 was dying fast. (In CBM UK Ltd we had managed to keep sales buoyant for 2 years beyond its natural sell by date, by producing very attractive “bundles”) I had a meeting with Mehdi Ali at which I explained to him we needed a very low cost entry point Amiga to replace the 64, with ideally a similar price point (£199 Retail) or a maximum of £249. The product I asked for would be a very basic Amiga that had the potential to be gradually upgraded, as consumers funds allowed, with the addition of Hard drives, Ram, etc. etc. In this way we would capture a new (less affluent) democratic profile of consumer. (The previous C64 buyers) for the Amiga range.
“No man plans to fail – he merely fails to plan”
We agreed to call the new model the Amiga 300, which would easily identify to the Amiga community that this was a “lesser” model in the range. In September that year all the General Managers met in Frankfurt to finally agree the basic specifications of the A300 and we left that meeting confident in what we were doing. Imagine our complete surprise when in the UK in March of 1992 we took delivery of a quantity of computers with the model number A600. It transpired that after our Frankfurt meeting the German subsidiary told Mehdi Ali they could not, would not sell any Amiga that did not have a Hard Drive included.
This product was a catastrophic disaster, for the following reasons:
1) Even though it had lesser features than A500 it cost more to manufacture.
2) Being called A600 gave consumers the impression it was a higher specification machine than the A500 – this resulted in A500 sales slowing down significantly.
3) We ended up prematurely killing off the A500 and began selling (but not well) A600 for which we made less money.
The saddest thing is that the first several thousand A600 machines produced had A300 printed on the mother board. This is one perfect example of Commodore Senior management never having a “plan” of any kind.
David J. Pleasance