The Amiga section
Stimulating the future PPC Amiga market
In the past, the Amiga has been beset with the issue of how to get Amiga users to upgrade their hardware in order to use new software. Occasionally a software maker would pull this feat off with an exceptional game and the upgrade not being too expensive, but certainly one particular issue was Amiga users upgrading to have hard disks in their machines. This would have seriously helped the Amiga market in its later days when support began to ebb.
Ok, this isn't a historical piece I'm writing. I'm wondering how this situation might affect the future Amiga hardware/software markets, assuming that A1/OS4 gets a good start, and what lessons can be learnt.
Does the history really help with working out a decent strategy in the future? To a certain extent no. Particularly regarding hard disks as they're now very cheap.
Assuming that x is a relatively new hardware product:
The first problem, for the users, is that they don't know whether upgrading to x is worth it and what for, and whether there will be continuing software support that won't run out before the user feels they've got their "money's worth" from the hardware. All of this comes under "do they really need it?".
My solution (gifted with hindsight of course, always useful :-) ), would be to have a consortium of software makers, as well as a couple of hardware makers. If a particular piece of hardware (such as an accelerator) would be particularly beneficial for them to take advantage of, then they all commence (or upgrade) projects to take advantage of the hardware, and try to aim the releases relatively close together, announcing way in advance their hardware requirements and featuresets of the new software. And also the hardware manufacturer offering a discount price for a while, or a pack of products altogether for users to buy.
I've been thinking how hardware upgrade paths and the new PPC Amiga market might evolve. The easiest way is to identify where the PPC market lags behind currently (that would be: raw processor speed and FSB speed. It will be: hardware features that become standard on x86 mobos, firewire? USB2, gigabit ethernet? serial ATA, SCSI for super high-end mobos? PCI-X?).
(I haven't included AGP3.0 as PCI-X appears to be destined to replace AGP, which I find surprising but not unbelievable, but anyway)
Then it needs to be worked out what markets are going to particularly need "new Amiga" users to upgrade:
- Games is the obvious one. CPU, FSB, possibly serial ATA are the most important factors then (or in the future)
- Connectivity to external devices like video cameras, scanners (USB2? Firewire? SCSI?)
- In a few years I guess getting *new* (as in cutting edge) hardware is going to be strictly PCI-X, which means that OS support for PCI-X needs to at least start being considered now.
The last point is interesting because if the evolution of PPC motherboard technology isn't particularly fast (and judging by the state of the Articia S chipet, I'd guess this is going to be the case), Amiga owners are going to find themselves in much the same boat as Classic Amiga owners do at the moment, if they need to get new hardware of virtually any sort.
I don't think Amiga users are going to get into the habit of upgrading because they want to [primarily], while PPC-related hardware remains over-expensive and underpowered, so it is the software makers that are going to have to really sell this kind of thing to the Amiga community, rather than just hoping they'll upgrade at a time convenient for the software makers.