Linux Mozilla On Amiga
Wednesday July 21st, 1999
James Russell writes in with information regarding Mozilla on the new Amigas: "...Amiga has announced the NG Amiga MCC (multimedia convergence computer) will have an OS written atop the Linux kernel (and Java2, Jini, C++, and more) and X Windows as a lower-level piece of the new Amiga Workbench (GUI) which Amiga has said they will release back into the Linux open-source environment (yes, the Workbench) for people to improve on.
For this reason, Linux Netscape will run on NG Amiga 'seamlessly', as they put it, and therefore those programming Linuxzilla now are actually programming NG Amigazilla along with it."
Interesting news - it'll be interesting to see how Amiga accomplishes their goal.
#16 Most of the rest...
Wednesday July 21st, 1999 5:03 PM
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The market for Amiga MCC is quite diverse as that for the computer it covers, including: mall/retail shoppers, Linux users, Classic Amiga users, Java users, high-end PC users, anyone who wants Internet devices, Macintosh and other UNIX users, graphic artists, students, game programmers, Web designers, animators, Web surfers (and those who would be surfing), interactive television, home computing environments, video games, music, movies, DVD, all of the above run through a single home computing environment, and to surf the Internet from a $499 notebook computer ... you get the point.
Because Amiga information appliances can be run from non-Amiga operating systems, Amiga MCC FD is not limited to being sold only to those who buy the computer. Those who want Amiga information appliances but want or need to run the home networking environment for whatever reason on Windows, Macintosh, or other major operating systems can do so. And with an open source and increasingly supported operating system, as will be the new Amiga Workbench (the equivalent to Microsoft releasing the Windows GUI into the Linux open source community) and an open standards architecture, I think Amiga has eliminated all of its major obstacles already. This is the short form of what everything else says:
Distribution advantage = Gateway clout Price = Low (targeted at $499!) Features = Very many Ease of use = Extremely high Stability = the Highest Networking = Seamless Compatibility with current hardware and software standards = Extremely high Speed = High Support Level = High, and growing as fast as Linux and Amiga are
Given all of the above, which I think are evident from this document as well as Amiga's technical brief (link on Page 1), I think I can see few groups that won't be targeted by the Amiga MCC and its brethren appliances.
Market Analysis- Apple themselves stated that only 20 percent of Americans are on the Internet yet, which means much of the other 80 percent is a boiling potential market for an Internet-ready computer that rocks-at a decent price, and that's just in America. Amiga has said that the Amiga MCC will be released world-wide late this year. It will be years before Microsoft or Apple implement anything remotely similar to the Amiga MCC, appliances, and operating environment, and longer still for their prices to come down from the stratosphere.
According to CNET the average price of PCs dropped to $928 in March, which is not low enough when considering that these computers come with slow Intel Celeron processors. Celeron prices are simply not low enough to sell a multimedia inefficient computer; one example of such inefficiency: why should you need a separate, obscure, and ridiculously high-priced TV card to hook your Nintendo or VCR through your high-resolution monitor? How are you expected to play Nintendo's new 640x480 enhanced games on a 320x240 TV set capable of nothing even aspiring to True Color? Why is it so difficult and costly to add RCA connections, get MIDI ports, digital inputs, run your VCR through your computer, and capture still frames from your favorite movies and TV shows?
Sub-$600 PCs (which are awful in comparison to the MCC) are selling pretty well now. Emachines went from no market share at all last November to being the fourth largest PC supplier in the retail market (according to CNET) by April, having shipped over 400,000 machines in five months.
Lack of Windows- Microsoft doesn't have much to offer in terms of an operating environment (OE) anytime soon, much less a real-time OE, at any cost, but here's a look at what products Microsoft does hope to release through 2001 or so:
Remainder of 1999- Windows 98 Second Edition (SE)- is being released now, but doesn't promise to sell much beyond PCs that are pre-loaded with it, aside perhaps from people who were waiting to upgrade to Windows 98 until the bug fixes were released. The 32-bit version of Windows 2000- Microsoft's one potential release other than Windows 98 SE for this year, but since Windows 2000 is a server/workstation OS (renamed from Windows NT 5.0 last fall) for businesses, it will not compete in the "home computing environment" market very well. The most touted feature of Windows 2000 is the Active Directory, originally a Novel NDS ability that keeps user settings/configs/applications updated at all times wherever the user goes on the network. The Active Directory is obviously an ability for networking environments that the overwhelming majority of mass-market consumers won't care about, understand, or need any more than they needed Windows NT 4. Also, the high-security of Windows NT (and thus Windows 2000) hinders the graphic-intensive applications from being able to truly "hit the hardware," making Windows 95/98 better for the job and explaining why Microsoft reversed its 1998 announcement to abandon Windows 9x code in favor of Windows NT code after Windows 98 (see the "Easy PC" effort following this entry).
2000 and beyond- Microsoft's and Intel's "easy PC" effort- will completely hide MS-DOS functionality from the user, have full USB support, and will probably come in designer cases. No other new features have been mentioned. Windows CE's "Rapier" project- this operating system's first real-time version doesn't even have a rumored date, hasn't been shown to anyone, and can't be any closer than 2000 or Microsoft would be pre-selling its beta by now. 64-bit version of Windows 2000- Microsoft hopes to release this possibly in 2000, around the same time as Intel's 64-bit Merced chip. "Neptune" the first consumer version of Windows 2000- No earlier than 2001. Microsoft intends to fully implement the integration of Internet Explorer with Windows (also known as the seldom-used Active Desktop). This looks to be integrating Outlook express, Internet Explorer, and the Windows Active Desktop functionality. In the picture on ZDNET, Microsoft has allotted the bottom eighth or so of the screen to the name and logo of the distributing computer manufacturer. (By contrast, Amiga's Workbench , or GUI, will be released open source (with a default made by Amiga, of course) so users can customize Workbench (equivalent to Desktop, but Workbench was first) to Kingdom Come, in any way they choose - or not.)
Apple- Though Apple accounts for only around 5 percent of the total PC market at any time, and though the company is partially owned ($150 million worth) by Microsoft, Apple is still worth looking at since iMac sold so well last fall at a very non-innovative price of $1399. iMac sold 278,000 in the six-week period after its release last fall at a cost around $1399 upon release (this dropped to $1199 by December), and had sold over 400,000 by January. These first iMacs had modest graphics abilities with 233mhz processors, a color shell, and a hideously misshapen kind of sideways oval one-button mouse. This original 233mhz iMac now sells for $899, outselling the ones that run at either 266mhz or 333mhz, which still start at $1199. While ease of use and stylistic design with a mediocre computer has been shown by iMac to drive some market adoption, low price coupled with high quality is not something that has been tried yet. PCs and Macs costs far too much for all of the things they don't do.
So where is Apple in the market for information appliances? Apple's guns are currently behind their new notebook computer, called "iBook," which is expected to cost around $1599. I have not heard that the notebook will be networkable to a Mac of any sort, but it will definitely come in colors. For $1599 in Amiga products a buyer could have the Amiga MCC and two "information appliances." Apple has indicated that they are using 3COM's Palm operating system for Apple-branded Palm computers, but not before 2000. In fact, 3COM is pretty much in charge of the workings of the Apple palm altogether. Apple's interim-CEO Steve Jobs has said that the palm-top is not priority at this time, but that the notebook definitely was. When Apple's palm arrives it is expected to come in colors.
Apple also hopes to release an update to iMac sometime late this year or early the next, which will allow easier access to inner components, have a larger screen, and hopefully be ready in time for Christmas. Unfortunately, the larger screen alone (17-inch) will likely prevent the iMac from coming down much in price for the 1999 holiday season, making it that much more difficult iMac to compete against a punishingly powerful $499 (or $599?) Amiga. It has not been mentioned that the iMac upgrade will include the new G4 Power PC processor - if the company follows its last year's pattern they will release an update and then put the G4 out after the first of the year, hoping to drive sales beyond Christmas, perhaps.
A G4 iMac is not likely to cost under $1000 at Apple's current pricing habits, but even so, the thing should be able to run the Amiga Information Appliance Environment.
Gateway's distribution power is one key to market Apple did not have for iMac that Amiga does have for the MCC -- the support of the Gateway half (so far) of the direct-to-consumer PC market that is now divided up almost equally between Dell Computers and Gateway. Unlike Apple, Gateway is able to offer packages including 24-hour support, Internet access, leading office software and hardware, as well as the ability to trade up your computer later. Amiga is doing with Gateway's pocketbook what Apple can't seem to do with Microsoft's (or Microsoft with Microsoft's, for that matter) - driving quality up and prices down.
The HomePNA 2.0 10Mb/s home networking standard- Lest it seem Amiga try to add proprietary networking standards to the industry, I should emphasize that the Amiga MCC networking environments will integrated with HomePNA standards. In HomePNA's own words (Source: the HomePNA Web site): "The Home Phoneline Networking Alliance (HomePNA) is an incorporated, non-profit association of industry-leading companies working together to help ensure adoption of a single, unified phoneline networking industry standard and rapidly bring to market a range of interoperable home networking solutions."
"Founded in June 1998 by 11 forward thinking companies (3Com, AMD, AT&T, Wireless, Compaq, Conexant, Epigram, Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM, Intel, Lucent Technologies and Tut Systems) the Alliance's membership has grown to include more than 70 cutting-edge companies, spanning the networking, telecommunications, hardware, software, and consumer electronics industries."
The HomePNA's main function seems to be creating a standard that will allow all homes with existing telephone lines -- both upgraded and non-upgraded - to be able to easily use a home network environment (i.e., using the same phone line simultaneously for faxing, phone calls, and Internet connections without needing to upgrade home wiring or acquire additional phone lines. The HomePNA effort will be driven by the plethora of broadband standards coming in the next year or two, including cable modems, Universal ADSL, and satellite links (the latter of which at least can be used by rural inhabitants as well as city dwellers without having to have upgraded fiber-optic cable lines). The network essentially runs the home like a tree, branching off from the home's various phone jacks.
Communication options (which Amiga is still finalizing) for the Amiga MCC so far include V.90 56Kb/s modem (of course), 100/10Mb/s Ethernet, wireless 2.4GHz digital networking as well as broadband Internet options like cable, DSL, and ISDN modems and digital satellite decoders.
1999 and Beyond- So here we are near the end of a millennium. Apple invented the first PC, and Microsoft aggressively and successfully drove early adoption of PCs (and then some), but what's next? Why, virtual home computing networks are next, in case you hadn't known, and are about to rip a large hole in not only the current usership of PCs as well as countless millions of people in the world who have been waiting for the day computing comes good and cheap.
It is told in communications majors' textbooks of the thirty year rule that says there is a thirty-year cycle for market saturation of each major (i.e., very useful and popular) new technology, like the telephone, radio, television, computers, and more. The first ten years of the cycle are the infancy of the technology; the next ten years are for moderate adoption as the technology grows and becomes more mainstream and inexpensive; and, during the final ten years, the technology becomes widely adopted, common-place, and price-efficient. In this cycle, information appliances are currently closing the first ten years, where it is time to aggressively drive adoption, and computers in general are reaching the end of the third decade of this cycle, when it is time for them to become commonplace. PCs are not good enough for multi-media convergence. It is time to move to the next level.
It is now one year post-iMac. The economy going into 2000 is at a high point in decades, and Americans with our beacon-strong economy and, well, spending habits, have been largely responsible for keeping the recent world economic crises from sparking a world-wide depression. People have money. Broadband Internet connections over the next year will fuel the Internet fire like mad -- to take the wait out of the World Wide Wait. And while people see HDTV as a ridiculous expense now, there is supposed to be a mass-market HDTV out later this year for $650.
Internet devices are the next thing as we've established knows, and digital, digital, digital. But currently there isn't an efficient, stable, easy way of combining home multi-media and entertainment with powerful computing-much less one at a decent price. Potential Amiga users, and purchasers of Amiga MCC For Dummies, are anybody who can afford a $5-600 computer that does everything a Windows PC does WAY better, and anyone who wants to make more efficient use of their existing hardware and upgrade it to the AmigaSoft OE. This is a large market, to say the least, and represents not just an elite medium any more but a powerful new technology targeted at the mass market first.
(There is a rumor that Amiga may be named Phoenix. That would be cool.)