Subject: Open Letter to the Amiga Community
Date: Fri, 23 Jul 1999 13:50:45 +0100
From: Wolf Dietrich 
Organization: phase 5 digital products
Newsgroups: comp.sys.amiga.misc

Dear Amiga friends,

in addition to our recent announcement about a cooperation with QNX
Software Systems Ltd. and our new AMIRAGE K2 project, this Open Letter
shall address some of the controversy questions that many of you are
asking these days. It contains my frank personal analysis and view of
the state of the Amiga market, the goals of AI and the general
situation, which are the reasons for our decision to take the chance for

the cooperation with QNX and to provide alternative solutions in the
future. If you are interested in these statements, I encourage you to
read and - especially if you are a developer - consider it carefully.

First of all, there is the question "why did they do that, why do they
split the Amiga market" in all of it's incarnations - often combined
with the assumption that we want to "steal away the Amiga" or become the

Amiga ourselves.  The answers to that are fairly simple:

1.We want to design a superior technology, which we believe is in the
spirit of the original Amiga, or, in different words, a technology that
many creative users would like to see. This includes innovation in
software and hardware. We don't want to make major compromises, just to
follow the mainstream or to do what everybody does.
2. There is obvioulsy no place for phase 5 (as well as many other
developers, as I will outline below) on the roadmap of Amiga Inc.

We are simply doing what we believe is the right thing in respect of our

vision, the technological goals we follow, and also the business
opportunities which we believe are the best for our future.

>From our point of view, AI will be developing and marketing a product
that has only the name in common with the original Amiga. They probably
have some nice ideas (although many details are still quite vaguely
described by common buzzwords at this time), but we can't see any
revolution in there - only evolution similar to that you can see in many

places of the computer industry today.

Looking at the available information, to us it seems obvious that Amiga
will build an appliance based on Linux, incorporating JAVA technologies
and their extensions named AmigaObjects. It is an appliance to "fulfill
the promises of the information age".  That's nice, but there are others

to do so, too.

I strongly feel that the major revolution that Amiga is talking about is

the next marketing revolution, when you can sell "information
appliances" to those millions of people who are not computer users, but
shall be connected to the Internet just as they became connected with
telephones long time ago. There's nothing bad in this, but what has it
to do with an Amiga computer? What I feel most uncomfortable with is the

fact that there is obvious no intention to create something new,
spectacular, extraordinary because this is risky; instead, the new
product is intended to be sold to millions, requiring to accept many
compromises and to follow the mainstream.

So, what has the upcoming AI product in common with the original Amiga
and it's spirit? It may be a nice product, that many people will go for,

but such are palm pilots, cell phones, playstations, stereo systems, TV
sets, beer and candy bars as well (I left out the Wintel-based PC
intentionally from this list). There's nothing wrong at all when Amiga
users are saying, "hey, this is a nice thing I'm gonna buy it", just as
there's nothing wrong in Amiga users buying palm pilots, cell phones,
playstations, stereo systems, TV sets, beer and candy bars as well (I
left out... uh, you know what I mean).

Amiga has not been talking to us, phase 5, except than in a meeting on
Jim Collas' trip through Europe. Ever since then, there was not a single

email, contact, any information to us. They didn't supply us with an
NDA, allowing them to tell us more about their plans earlier, and
supporting us in making our decisions. Instead, they watch us (where
"us" means many other developers as well) supporting the "Amiga
Classic"  and following the PPC route, while they are going to cut it
off again. Is that fair or loyal against the developers and users
supporting the Amiga platform with their efforts and their money? It
gives me the strong feeling that  don't even care what happens with us.
There is no indication of any kind of partnership at all, so there can't

be any mutual loyalty either.

I do not know which contacts have been made to other existing Amiga
developers. Many of them seem to be surprised by the latest
announcements, many dislike them, some may appreciate them - but if so,
did they think about their own future? Personally, I believe the lately
announced "contacts to Corel" are a significant message. Why didn't we
read "AI works closely with H&P to port Amiwriter to the AmigaNG", "AI
has choosen NovaDesign's ImageFX to ship with the MCC", "AI and
WorldFoundry announce availability of two hot 3D titles with the release

fo the MCC" or similar announcements?

It's simple: AI follows the industry standards. Just as they use Linux
and need the momentum from Linux to carry them forward, they need the
big names such as Corel to carry them forward. They don't need, for
example, phase 5 as a hardware company supporting their projects, and I
strongly believe they (at least think they) don't need the Amiga S/W
developers for their success. Jim Collas said in his "Response to Linux
feedback" of July 10:

     "I simply don't believe we can gain enough momentum without tapping

into the
       Linux momentum. Linux will give us continuous access to new
technology and
       components as they are released. With QNX we could get out a new
       but I don't believe we would keep up with the rapid technology
changes in the
       computer industry."

Can we read from this that all the active Amiga developers - who have
supported our platform with so many products and technologies that make
the Amiga still up-to-date and useable -  are assumed to be unable to
provide the necessary software technologies on a new platform? I think
so.  Jim Collas showed concern about the business success if Linux
hadn't been choosen. Obviously, the relationship with Corel seems to be
important to AI also, to support the business success. Who will be the
next important partner, preoccupying market segments on the new Amiga
platform? Adobe? ID Soft? Who knows....   Now, just a thought: If there
wasn't that Linux momentum right now, would then be Windows
compatibility important for the success? A question to the Amiga
developers: Do you appreciate that AI considers it important for the
success of the MCC, that the big names in industry come to the platform
to provide the technology/software products that - as it seems - AI
doesn't believe you could provide? And a question, to the Amiga users:
What is more important for you, the success (and shareholder value?) of
a company that carries the name Amiga, or the technology that they bring

to you?

When the new AI MCC shall be sold in millions, the current Amiga
community will not be a sufficient market at all. I believe it is then
the latest, when AI's loyalty to the Amiga community will end - just as
AI's loyalty with the current Amiga developers has ended.  The same, I
strongly believe, will be the case for the small remaining base of
dealers and distributors. What will count for AI is not the fact that
those have supported the Amiga many years - the business success will
demand that the MCC is sold by the BIG ones. And that's what it is all
about: becoming BIG, selling BIG, making BIG money. Nothing wrong about
it - but the loyalty of the Amiga community, which AI is surfing on
these days before their BIG take off, will probably not be rewarded. And

while AI teams up with the already BIG ones, the chances of us small
ones to grow big with the new Amiga generation are getting smaller each

Where does this leave us? From my point of view, there is no place for
us - and I mean not only phase 5, but most if not all of the current
Amiga developers - on the Amiga roadmap, and in the future that Amiga
wants to create. That also means for us as companies: no more (Amiga)
business. But with QNX,  there is an OS solution that will fulfill the
promise of technological excellence - and we here at phase 5 are able to

provide some really advanced hardware as well as concepts for future

Just a side note: What Amiga today calls a revolution, are just concepts

(and some developments from such)  which we have proposed three years
ago already. We proposed hardware-independent distributed processing a
long time ago, and we outlined our vision of application tasks or
threads (read also "Services" or "Objects" or "Revolutionary objects" or

"You-know-which-kind-of Objects") that run on different CPUs or
processors or appliances, somewhere in a box or a network, and
communicate with each other. I don't want to say that AI may not have
some additional and new ideas, but if they are so revolutionary remains
to be seen - and guess what remains there if you climb down from the
above-JAVA level to the underlying levels of software technology....

QNX Neutrino will allow fantastic software to be written, to support
similar revolutionary services, applications and developments. There is
new and stunning hardware technology available to us - PPC G4, the
stunning Altivec technology, multimedia processing in many kinds, and
the digital convergence (we talk about high-performance digital
convergence here, not about a fusion of a cell phone and a palm pilot) -

and this altogether can be the base for a wonderful platform for all the

creative users out there, as outlined in our latest announcements. It
can be a future that we design altogether - the users, the developers,
the user groups and all others who support the Amiga. We definitely need

to team up now and develop our future, instead of waiting for AI's BIG
thing we have been waiting for three years now.  And so I am asking you
all out there, to make a stand and show your position. I am asking you
developers to show publicly your support for the QNX Neutrino running on

PowerUP boards, and our upcoming AMIRAGE computer series (and maybe
other hardware from other manufacturers, too...). With 13 years of Amiga

history and experience, I can only underscore that the strong support of

the majority of Amiga users and developers for this new path will create

succesful products, most creative and stunning technology, and a growing

and valuable market in which all those who start now can become
technology leaders.  We all have survived in a shrinking market for so
long, and now we can decide actively if we want to start off into a
future that will realize technological excellence and open up new
dimensions for us, or if we want to be lost in the mainstream  finally,
which we could have joined many years ago already.

BTW, I deny those assumptions saying we would split the Amiga market. We

are just offering the products that AI won't offer - and just
considering the features and price position, our product may initially
not be in competition with Amigas MCC (although we have not heard about
the MCCs price yet). We are following a path that AI has obviously
dropped, and we want to team up with those Amiga friends, users and
developers which Amiga wants to leave behind (maybe not on purpose, but
probably with a "hey sorry if you came under the BIG wheel that we are
turning now" attitude).

I would also like to say some words about our former projects, the A\BOX

and the pre\box, in comparison the the new AMIRAGE K2 project (BTW, we
knew that some would read it as AMI-RAGE, and others as A-MIRAGE, but
we  a) have no problems with some self-irony, and b) recommend to speak
it with a french pronounciation). There are voices critizising us,
blackening about the vaperboxes and such. It is true, we failed to
deliver these two products, while we - in contrary to others - did at
least provide the leading Amiga add-on technology, continuously
throughout the last years, in a difficult market. The A\BOX development
was delayed following the initial delays in the PowerUP development.
After PowerUP had been finished, the market situation had changed
significantly since Amiga had been sold to Gateway, and many users and
Amiga people were waiting for developments/announcements at/from Amiga
Inc. It was a logical business decision to stop the A\BOX project, as we

couldn't justify continued development efforts and investments into it
at this point. Later, in March 1998, we announced the pre\box, a simpler

and easier-to-realize stand-alone product, planned to support MP and the

PPC transition, for which we also signed a license agreement with Amiga
for the OS 3.1. But shortly after the pre\box was announced,  AI
announced on the WOA 1998 in London that they would not use the PowerPC
but the MMC chip instead, an announcement that significantly hurt our
business (as well as the business of many Amiga developers and
companies). As a consequence, the pre\box development was put on hold
and went back into the drawers later that year. I think that it is
obvious that our chances to succesfully realize the former demanding
projects - which would have required support of AI, the developers and
the community - have been badly influenced by such external decisions.
Today, with the AMIRAGE K2 development, we are in a completely different

situation, as the use of the QNX Neutrino OS will allow us to focus on
the hardware development, and exploit the options that todays's latest
silicon technology offers, without drawbacks and compromises. We are
convinced that we can deliver on our promise with the dawn of the next

Hoping to see you in the future.

Yours sincerely
Wolf Dietrich
Wolf Dietrich, GM phase 5 digital products