Over the past few months, I've dedicated the occasional time slice to thinking about the Joe Torre interview from around the beginning of this year, in which Amiga Incorporated's general direction for the future of the platform was established. I was pleased to hear that the 680x0 and PowerPC would both be included in the specification for the time being, as this is sure to guarantee a good balance of compatibility and performance. However, one of the last lines, neatly tucked away after several paragraphs of "good news," announced somewhat casually that Amiga would not be making new Amigas.
As we all know, this created a bit of a stir in the online Amiga community. Personally, I wasn't sure what to make of it. I had never expected to see a surge of monster Gateway 2000 mega-Amigas, but at the same time, I felt confident that if Amiga Inc. did anything at all, they would at least continue the Commodore/ESCOM tradition of engineering, manufacturing, and distribution. Instead, what we have is a diffuse web of licensing and cloning.
The more I think of it, the clearer it becomes that we, the Amiga users of the world, are about to get, to put it not the least bit politely, screwed over yet again. I'm not sure who we should "blame" for this; whether Gateway 2000 is not providing the needed funds (although there were rumors of new facilities being built in the last half-year), or Amiga is simply copping out, is not yet clear. But either way, it is a gutless, heartless, and altogether thoughtless approach at attempting to revive a platform whose ties to life are tenuous at best.
Cloning and licensing is fine. In fact, it is an excellent way to enlarge and diversify the platform, as well as provide competition which is sure to benefit the consumer. But there must be a central direction, a unified leadership, and a "genuine Amiga." Otherwise, the potential for resource and market fragmentation is far too great -- even with Amiga maintaining specifications.
Personally, I've just about had it. Although our main purposes at The Amiga Monitor have always been to provide information and editorial resources, we have also served as advocates for the platform, together with so many individuals, groups, and other publications. But there is only so far a community can take a platform to which one company after another refuses to appropriately dedicate itself. The licensing and cloning may actually work, but without a central direction, the platform is crippled, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it fail utterly.
I'm not saying you should abandon the Amiga and go buy a Wintel box. Even if I hadn't bought a new Amiga less than a year ago, I would still be committed to continuing with this platform; for my purposes, both of my Amigas are simply far more useful and enjoyable than any other system, and I have no personal reason to leave. As it is, new product developments promise powerful new hardware and software for years to come. But you should make the same decision for yourself. Use the system that's best for your needs; if the Amiga really is as great as we've all been screaming for so many years, then that's the one to use. But the time to blindly follow this platform has gone.
I, for one, do believe the Amiga is that great, and I'm staying because I want to. Still, if the platform dies, it isn't my life. But who knows; maybe with an ounce of corporate competence, it will make it after all.
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