|★ PEOPLES ★ A RARE MISCALCULATION FROM THE EXPERTS AF AMSTRAD|NEW COMPUTER EXPRESS) ★|
|A rare miscalculation from the experts af Amstrad (New Computer Express)|
Amstrad's Sinclair PC200, the most control versial computer launch of the past two years, is a failure. Of that there can be little doubt, and even the company itself has now all but explicitly acknowledged the fact.
Amstrad, arguably Britain's most important computer manufacturer, had hoped to tap a new seam of users. It was looking for a buyer who would pay for a computer which was both a games machine and a business machine. The simultaneously flippant and serious user was reckoned to be out there waiting.
Promotional 'bumph' from the time of the PC200's launch quickly illustrated the company's aspirations for the machine. It was hoped that the prospective buyer would be aware of the Sinclair brand and of its success in home computers. The machine was even finished in Spectrum-like black. The machine's IBM compatibility was also a line stretched until It almost snapped, with Amstrad at great pains to point out that this was ‘the industry standard' for business users.
The gist of all this for profit-seeking dealers was that they could look forward to the possibility of Spectrum and Amstrad CPC owners upgrading' to the new machine, and to further custom from firsttime buyers looking for a safe, versatile option.
Unfortunately, Amstrad's new beast failed to make the grade In the exceptionally competitive low-cost arena. Was the problem that the company failed to get behind the machine sufficiently, as offered by UK managing director Barry Young in his interview with Express, or did the firm's usually perceptive marketing experts also mis-read the market?
In terms of price, the PC200 is pitched against what are regarded as ‘sexy' computers - the Atari ST and Commodore's Amiga. Anyone looking to spend £300 can choose between the basic PC200 and the ST. Atari's machine is publicly perceived to be, and is, a superior computer. And those prepared to spend £400 can buy excellent packs from both Commodore and Atari.
Most people prepared to sign a cheque for £399 for a home computer will be looking forward to having fun with games and some pretty graphics - with only four colours, and bearing in mind the still limited selection of games for the PC, the Sinclair must be regarded as miles off the pace in this respect.
The PC200 leaves a lot to be desired as a low-cost business option too. Its relatively cheap appearance means that It doesn't really look the part on an office desk - not something It could afford to do with the wide range of good low-cost PCs on the market, including Amstrad's own 1512,1640 and even the PCW range.
There Is nothing to be gained from harping on about a machine that few people own. But it is instructive that Amstrad - the company which cleaned up with the CPC, swept the market with the PCW and revolutionised computing with its low-cost PCs -has finally backed a loser.
Only ardent Amstrad bashers will see any cause for glee here, but many others will find non-malicious comfort in the curiously reassuring revelation that even the smartest are fallible.!
New Computer Express #057 (12/1989)