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Why did the Amiga fail in the US?

Sauron's Ring

Registered User
Validated User
Sorry if this isn't the right forum.

I read a lot of retro videogame forums, and a bunch of Europeans talk about how awesome the Amiga was, and I can't remember anybody I knew back in the 80s having one. Is the failure to do well in the American market part of the reason why Commodore failed? Seems odd, since it was an American company,
 

Sigrid Hex

Social Justice Valkyrie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Well, I don't have the answer to your question, but I noticed (entirely from experience, I don't have any numbers) that the C-64 and Amiga were huge in my part of Europe in the 80s and early 90s, while roughly no one had ever heard of Nintendo (slight exaggeration, but the console market was minuscule in comparison). I find it interesting if this was completely different in the US (and from what I can tell from my US friends, consoles were huge back then).

I don't know why Commodore "failed" (let alone in the US) but I think one contributing factor was the later Amiga models being unable to keep up with the PC market for both gaming and work (the Amiga 3000 really tried to be a viable workstation, but never really panned out as I recall it). They never had much competition from consoles, at least not around these parts.
 

Kredoc

Registered User
Validated User
I owned an A1000 and several of my friends owned that, or various incarnations of later models (including a couple people who were using them for 3D stuff). I think the A1000 at least would have done better with a HD at launch. I remember compiling C code on a dual floppy system, and man did that suck. :D Lack of office-type software didn't help either. Great game machine though (which was why we all bought them).
 

Lord Shark

Varoonik!
Validated User
The C64 was extremely popular in the US. IIRC, it was one of the best-selling, if not THE best-selling, computer models of all time.

As for why the Amiga failed, I think a lot was due to shitty marketing -- Commodore couldn't decide if it was a business workstation, a home computer, or what, and software companies didn't know what to make for it. And at that point in the computer market, IBM was pretty much stomping over everyone.
 

Obed Marsh

Roll to resist disquiet
Validated User
I was about 12 at the time, and the only people who knew about or had Amigas were hardcore computer geeks (i.e. my friends!).

I remember IBM's marketing blitz for their PC; Just YouToob search for IBM + Charlie Chaplin. Those were from 1985, when the Amiga was released, and you couldn't escape them if you watched television.
 

Dawgstar

Super Moderator
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Validated User
Amiga always seemed to be the distant third - your Turbographix to a larger Nintendo and Sega, if you will. Maybe it was just marketing. As I recall from the advertisements of the time (which I will admit I saw mostly as full-page ads on the back of comic books) there didn't seem to be much in the way of promotion like for other systems in the same era.
 

davidb

Synthesis Paragon
Commodore as a corporation was basically an integrator of 3rd party electronics, and didn't have a lot of leverage in the marketplace. Confused product rollout, difficulty breaking into the business market and a cutthroat marketplace certainly made things difficult.

There were Atari, Toshiba, Texas Instruments, Apple, IBM, IBM clones (Compaq, AST, Packard Bell,... lots of other companies), and Commodore competing for the same home share.


Atari, Toshiba, TI, Commodore all failed, Compaq, AST, Packard Bell all no longer exist, and IBM exited the market. Ironically, only after shifting chipsets from Motorolla to PowerPC then ultimately to Intel was Apple finally able to make a go of it almost 30 years later.

As far as the Amiga, they were fairly popular here in Canada. I remember them being very advance for graphics and sound work, and being the first consumer available preemptive multitasking operating system -- they were solid machines. I recall a lot of TV stations using Amiga setups with Videotoaster boards to do their broadcast graphics.

I'm son of an IBMer, and thus had an IBM PC (8088 w/ 512k ram!) then PS/2 Model 55 (386-SX 16mhz with a jaw-dropping 4mb of ram) in my household. One of my friends had an Amiga 500, and I'd say that it was the best home PC I knew of until the 486 era. Light years ahead of the MS-DOS based platform, and AppleOS was always too closed for a real programmer to be proud of (oh, how times have changed...)

Certainly as far as hardware goes, it deserved a better fate.
 

Bruwulf

Suspected Unicorn
Validated User
Another point to consider is that the PAL/NTSC divide hit the Amiga harder than some other systems at the time. Even today it's still an issue... The price of a PAL system is a lot higher on the used market than an NTSC system, because the games people want to play are PAL games.

Which is both a problem and a symptom of a problem. It's a symptom of the fact that there wasn't a lot of demand for the NTSC games, which itself became a problem, because there wasn't the volume of good games over here to sell the system later in it's life.

As to what killed it early on... I don't know. Economics are probably a good chunk of it. The originals weren't cheap, and while they eventually came out with a more budget-friendly model, I think they lost too many customers early on to C64s and increasingly-affordable IBM-compatibles. For most people, it was hard to argue with $250 vs $1,250, roughly speaking. Although I'm not sure why that would be so much more an issue in the US than Europe at the time.
 

Rupert

Active member
Validated User
The C64 was extremely popular in the US. IIRC, it was one of the best-selling, if not THE best-selling, computer models of all time.

As for why the Amiga failed, I think a lot was due to shitty marketing -- Commodore couldn't decide if it was a business workstation, a home computer, or what, and software companies didn't know what to make for it. And at that point in the computer market, IBM was pretty much stomping over everyone.
When the Amiga first came out the IBM PC was still very much a small business machine, not a games machine. Even when it finally became one, and everyone wrote games for the PC and ported them to the Amiga, it was inferior (ported games, unless completely re-written had crap graphics and sound compared to Amiga native ones).
 
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