PEOPLES ★ Troubled PC may be scrapped in the New Year ★

Amstrad Ponders Future of PC200 (New Computer Express)
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It is now almost certain that Amstrad will soon admit defeat on its low-cost PC200. For the first time the company has admitted that it is looking closely at the machine's future in the UK, and at the possibility of discontinuing it in the New Year.


PC200: shaky future for a disappointing machine

In an exclusive interview with Express, Amstrad's recently appointed UK managing director, Barry Young, said of the PC200 that “decisions are being made on its future” and that withdrawing the machine from the UK market after Christmas was a genuine possibility.

Amstrad has always previously stood by its entry-level machine despite poor sales and dismissive reviews in the press. Last spring Amstrad's chairman, Alan Sugar, said that a major relaunch was being considered. However, all that has emerged since is the bundling of a dot-matrix printer adding an extra £100 to the retail price.

Despite a massive advertising campaign across all its other machines for the big selling season, Amstrad has decided not to back the PC200 in a similar manner. Few of the industry's major distributors are taking the machine, and retail presence is low.

"I don't think we would put the PC200 down as being one of our most successful products,” said Young. “I don't know whether the concept was a mistake or whether we didn't really get behind it with the same aggression as we did with other products.

“Perhaps there was some confusion because, price-wise, it was bracketed in with the 1512.''

He added: “It's difficult. The only thing I remember from when we first launched the PC200 was that all the people who were involved were tremendously enthusiastic about it and said what a good idea it was.”

The PC200 was unveiled at the PC Show in September of last year. At the time it was hailed as the first machine in a new ‘Sinclair Professional' series. Amstrad had hoped to appeal to those people who could identify with the Sinclair name and who wanted a low cost IBM compatible.

It retails at a basic price of £299, but costs £499 for buyers who want it packaged with a colour monitor. With only four colours, the machine is a poor rival to Commodore's Amiga and Atari's ST as a games machine, and it does not fare well when compared to Amstrad's own low-cost PC1512, which is still selling healthily.

But Amstrad will probably not lose money on the product. Stocks of the machine will be sent out to those countries which Amstrad feels will find it attractive. A company spokesman said that stock levels in the UK are not high, but he was unable to say how many of the machines have been sold here.

Young sure of stalwarts

Despite uncertainties about the PC200, Amstrad is clear about the future of old workhorses the PCW, CPC and Spectrum.

UK managing director Barry Young confidently predicts that all three machines will continue to be an important part of Amstrad's activities and says that the machines are still selling to new users.

“Take the CPC. It's selling very well this Christmas and dealers are still taking even more from us. It's far from dead,” Young told Express.

“And last year all the pundits were forecasting that the Sinclair Spectrum would be dead this year. Far from it - we have reached a situation where we've already sold all the Spec-trums we had hoped to sell for this year. The experts say these machines are dead. But that's not what the public are saying.”

He added: “They're like the Volkswagen Beetle. The thing was old-fashioned, but people get a level of confidence in something which has been around for a long time.”

On the PCW he commented: “When the 9512 came along with a daisy wheel printer everyone said “that's the end of the other two [the 8256 and 8512]'. I think in a lot of companies that product would have been discontinued, but every month we can predict fairly accurately how many we're going to sell.”

New Computer Express #057 (12/1989)

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L'Amstrad CPC est une machine 8 bits à base d'un Z80 à 4MHz. Le premier de la gamme fut le CPC 464 en 1984, équipé d'un lecteur de cassettes intégré il se plaçait en concurrent  du Commodore C64 beaucoup plus compliqué à utiliser et plus cher. Ce fut un réel succès et sorti cette même années le CPC 664 équipé d'un lecteur de disquettes trois pouces intégré. Sa vie fut de courte durée puisqu'en 1985 il fut remplacé par le CPC 6128 qui était plus compact, plus soigné et surtout qui avait 128Ko de RAM au lieu de 64Ko.